Man Is Freed In Swiss Probe Of Nuclear Ring

Associated Press
Monday, December 29, 2008

GENEVA, Dec. 28 -- A Swiss man suspected of involvement in the world's biggest nuclear smuggling ring has been released from prison after more than four years of investigative detention, his family said Sunday.

Urs Tinner, 43, was freed several days ago, his mother, Hedwig Tinner, said by telephone from eastern Switzerland.

His brother Marco Tinner, 40, remains in detention while prosecutors appeal his release to the federal criminal court in Bellinzona, she said, declining to comment further.

The family's information was confirmed by an official in a position to know about the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules.

The Swiss Supreme Court had rejected previous requests for their release but told investigators in August to consider -- "within months" -- whether to set Urs and Marco Tinner free pending a possible trial.

The brothers, along with their father, Friedrich, are suspected of supplying the clandestine network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, creator of Pakistan's atomic bomb, with technical know-how and equipment that was used to make gas centrifuges. Khan sold the centrifuges to countries with secret nuclear weapons programs, including Libya and Iran, before his operation was disrupted in 2003.

Swiss investigators have struggled to piece together a complete picture of the Tinners' alleged activities within the Khan network since their arrest four years ago.

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