Nuclear terror charges 'completely false'

16th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

Charges that a nuclear scientist at CERN had links with Al-Qaeda are "completely false," his brother says.

Paris -- Charges that a nuclear scientist arrested in France earlier in October had links with Al-Qaeda are "completely false," his brother has told a scientific journal.

French magistrates on Monday charged Adlene Hicheur, a 32-year-old researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, with "membership of a terrorist group."

Investigators monitored internet messages between the scientist and a North African branch of Al-Qaeda, French officials said.

Halim Hicheur, 30, said his brother frequently sent emails to people in Algeria, but said there was no correspondence with the terrorist group.

"Most of my family is from Algeria," the brother told the journal Nature, saying there was nothing in the family background "that would have made us think about violence."

"We are Muslims, we have never hidden this," he added.

Adlene Hicheur was working under contract at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) when he was arrested.

Halim also denied that he had been detained with his brother, as was reported in the media.

"I have never been contacted by the police," he said, explaining that it was his youngest brother who was arrested and later released without charge on 10 October.

Halim told Nature that his scientist brother, just before his arrest, had withdrawn EUR 13,000 (CHF 19,700, USD 19,200) for a land purchase near their ancestral home in Algeria.

Police asked questions about the money, which may have sparked the arrest, he suggested.

CERN operates one of the world's leading nuclear research laboratories attached to a 27-kilometre (15-mile) tunnel running under the Franco-Swiss border just outside Geneva.

In the tunnel, a particle accelerator attempts to recreate the conditions present at the time of the Big Bang.

AFP / Expatica

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