ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan's military-led government has frozen the accounts of two nuclear scientists suspected of links with Usama bin Laden, a central bank spokesman said Sunday.
Assets of Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mehmood and Abdul Majid, who worked for Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission until retiring in 1999, have been frozen by the State Bank of Pakistan, spokesman Syed Wasimuddin said by telephone from Karachi.
The bank also froze accounts of wealthy industrialist Mohammed Tufail, he said. All three were on the board of directors of Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, or Nation Builder, an Islamic charity declared a terrorist group by the United States on Dec. 20.
President Bush ordered the group's assets frozen along with those of Mehmood, Majid and Tufail.
On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council followed the U.S. move and ordered a freeze on the assets of the group and the three men.
Gen. Rashid Quereshi, spokesman for Pakistan's military-led government, said the charity's assets already had been frozen. He gave no details on what other measures the government plans against the group and its leaders.
After their retirement, the two scientists made several trips to Afghanistan, where they met bin Laden. But both have denied transferring any nuclear-related information to bin Laden's Al Qaeda group and said they only ran education programs and helped poor Afghan farmers.
They claimed they talked with bin Laden about plans for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
Mehmood was picked up on Oct. 23 and was held for weeks, but was released after suffering a mild heart attack during interrogation. After a few days, he was taken to a safe house of Pakistan's main spy agency. In mid-December, the government freed both men.
Authorities said Mehmood and Majid defied service rules that apply to government scientists even after retirement, and of violating travel restrictions. They have been barred from talking with reporters or making public speeches.