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Germany

German Faces Trial for Nuclear Smuggling

A German businessman suspected of taking part in an international smuggling ring to supply nuclear know-how will face trial in South Africa, according to reports.

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The defendant allegedly supported Libya's nuclear program ambitions

Gerhard Wisser, 66, was arrested last September in South Africa and charged with four counts of contravening the Nuclear Energy Act and a law banning the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan

The founder of Pakistan's nuclear program, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan

Wisser is believed to be part of the nuclear smuggling network thought to be linked to Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan (photo), who has admitted to helping Libya and other nations develop their weapons programs.

The German national is in particular suspected of organizing production in South Africa of equipment for Libya's covert nuclear program, which the country has since abandoned, German weekly Der Spiegel reports in its Monday issue.

The magazine said prosecutors uncovered several pieces of evidence linking Wisser to Khan's network during their investigation: a video cassette of Khan's laboratory in Pakistan, a business card of Khan's chief purchaser, and documents signed by Khan.

Gerhard Schröder bei Muammar el Gaddafi

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (left) was one of several western leaders to visit Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi after her renounced weapons of mass destruction

After Libya vowed to dismantle its nuclear program in December 2003, Wisser wrote in an mobile phone text message to a colleague that "they're throwing us to the lions", according to prosecutors. Several other people have also been arrested in South Africa in the affair.

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