Thursday Feb 23, 201204:02 AM GMT
French nuclear scientist faces charges of al-Qaeda links
Dr. Adlene Hicheur, who was working on the Large Hadron Collider, was arrested on suspicion of suggesting European targets for terror attacks.
Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:44PM
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A French court has started the trial of a French nuclear scientist for "criminal association” with a branch of the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The Algerian-born French citizen, Adlene Hicheur, was arrested on October 8 under suspicion of having links to the North African branch of al-Qaeda, which seeks to institute a parallel rule in Algeria.

French judicial officials say the 32-year-old has acknowledged his online correspondence with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb radical group and admitted having had vague discussions of plans for terror attacks.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a radical militia which is engaged in an insurgent campaign to overthrow the Algerian government.

French counterterrorism officials had said they tracked Hicheur for 18 months before arresting him.

The investigators say they have read the encrypted emails exchanged between Hicheur and the North African branch of al-Qaeda using advanced, internet "bugging" equipment.

The emails allegedly contained suggested targets for attacks on nuclear sites in France and other countries "allied with the United States".

However the nuclear scientist’s lawyer told reporters that the Paris court has no evidence against his client and is only basing the case on an email which is said to have been exchanged between him and an al- Qaeda leader.

The French nuclear scientist had received his doctoral training at Stanford University, one of the world's leading research institutions in California, and worked on the international "Big Bang" Large Hadron Collider experiment on the Swiss-French border.

He is a top physicist who has presented dozens of research papers at universities and nuclear research centers all over the world.


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