Reuters International

Nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan smiles in Islamabad February 6, 2009. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

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By John Miller

ZURICH (Reuters) - A Swiss man whose computers were destroyed a decade ago during an investigation into the illicit sale of nuclear weapons material to Libya has failed to force Switzerland to pay him more than $1 million in property damages.

A ruling rejecting the claim, published by the Swiss Federal Tribunal on Wednesday, is the latest chapter in the case surrounding Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program who also sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. [http://reut.rs/2bkRTJP]

In 2004, Khan's technology network that extended deep into Switzerland helped spawn one of the greatest nuclear proliferation crises of the atomic age, United Nations officials have said.

Last year, an unidentified Swiss man whose computers were seized by law enforcement officials investigating the case demanded the government pay him 1.05 million Swiss francs ($1.08 million).

The destruction in around 2006 of his materials, including backups and compact discs, cost him his life savings and retirement, he claimed in court documents.

A three-judge panel of Switzerland's highest court, however, confirmed a lower court ruling that concluded the statute of limitations on the matter had expired in 2011.

Though the high court did not release the man's name, the ruling stated his case was linked to the Tinner family -- father Friedrich Tinner, along with sons Marco and Urs -- who were arrested in 2005 and jailed for about three years.

They were initially accused of helping Khan skirt international sanctions governing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, although Urs Tinner later said he was helping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency root out Khan's network. [http://reut.rs/2bj8iRI]

In 2012, they reached a plea deal with the Swiss government in which they acknowledged supplying centrifuge parts and participating in Khan's smuggling ring. They were fined but avoided more time behind bars. [http://reut.rs/2b10d2d]

Contacted by Reuters, Marco Tinner said in an email on Thursday that this latest damages claim was not from his family.

Reuters emails and phone calls to a fourth person who was investigated in the case, an engineer in eastern Switzerland, were not returned.

($1 = 0.9739 Swiss francs)

(Editing by Toby Chopra)

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