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Former Pakistan nuclear workers released

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two former members of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission were released from detention Thursday, their families told CNN.

Bashir uddin Mahmood and Abdul Majeed were jailed last week by the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.

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A U.S. government source familiar with the situation said some former nuclear employees had been questioned about "possible links to the Taliban" rulers of Afghanistan.

Mahmood and Majeed are retired engineers who worked for the commission. The men's families maintain they have had nothing to do with any terrorist or anti-Pakistan organization.

"They are eminent nuclear scientists who have served this country to the best of their abilities," a family statement read. "They do not have any association with any terrorist or anti-Pakistan organization."

Both Mahmood and Majeed spent Thursday night at home in Islamabad.

The families said they were told the pair's release does not mean they have been cleared of suspicion of being linked to Taliban rulers. Pakistani officials said last week that they did not know whether the men shared top-secret nuclear information.

Still the only country to recognize the Taliban, Pakistan has supported the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism and condemned the Taliban for refusing to hand over suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden and his operatives in Afghanistan. This stance has prompted anti-government protests and led Islamabad to ban rallies in an effort to crack down on civil unrest.

Mirza Yusuf Baig, a wealthy businessman from Lahore, Pakistan, had been detained along with Mahmood and Majeed, his family said on Wednesday. There was no indication that he had been released.

The health of all three men had deteriorated in the last week, their families said, and Mahmood had suffered a heart attack in prison.

-- CNN Correspondent Sheila MacVicar contributed to this story.



 
 
 
 


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