French judge files terror-linked charges against arrested physicist

11:23, October 13, 2009      

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A French judge filed charges on Monday against a physicist arrested on Thursday over suspected links with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The 32-year-old Frenchman of Algeria origin worked for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, as a physicist assigned to analyze projects in the organization.

French judicial officials said that the physicist has acknowledged his online contacts with members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and discussions about a vague plan of terror attacks.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a Sunni extremist group that regularly targets government forces in Algeria and occasionally attacks foreigners.

French anti-terror agents said they had been tracking the physicist for 18 months before the arrest, according to local media reports.

The investigating judge decided to file preliminary charges of terrorism against the Frenchman, which will give time to further inquiry.

The physicist "is an employee of one of CERN's user institutes," associating with the project of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC),and "he is not a CERN employee," the European nuclear research center said in a statement published on Monday.

"CERN controls access to all areas under its domain, and has particularly strict access protocols for areas deemed sensitive for personal or operational safety. The person arrested on Thursday did not have access to any such areas," the statement added.

According to local media reports, the well-educated suspect was working with over 7,000 scientists of various countries on the sophisticated LHC, the world's largest particle accelerator, which was halted in September 2008 due to a serious fault.

The physicist's 25-year-old brother, who was arrested along with him from their house in south Lyon, has been released.

Source: Xinhua
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