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Bremner, Charles, Sage, Adam, “Hadron Collider physicist Adlene Hicheur charged with terrorism,” TimesOnline, october 13, 2009.

  1. “However, his arrest last week has sparked a furious row among France’s anti-terrorist magistrates. Judge Teissier’s critics say that he missed an opportunity to obtain invaluable information about Aqim networks by moving to detain the suspect at an early stage in his investigation. They said that he should have held off and kept the man under surveillance.”
  2. “Brice Hortefeux, the French Interior Minister, is also being criticised for publicising the arrest. Detractors say that the publicity will have driven the suspect’s contacts underground.”
  3. “Residents in the suspect’s home town of Vienne, in eastern France, said that his success had made him a role model for young Muslims. ‘They are good boys,’ said one neighbour of the suspect and his brother. ‘They are from a family of six children and from a very moderate Muslim family which is seen as a model of integration.’”
  4. “The suspect’s brother is reported to have graduated from the University of Paris with a degree in biomechanics.”
  5. “He was placed under surveillance by French officers last year after US intelligence services intercepted internet messages he allegedly sent to contacts close to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).”

Law Enforcement, Misconduct, France, Physics, al-Qaeda


Overbye, Dennis, “French Investigate Scientist In Formal Terrorism Inquiry,” NYT, A13, Oct. 14, 2009.

  1. “A French court placed a phycisist working at CERN, the huge research center in Switzerland, under formal investigation on Monday for suspected ‘conspiracy with a terrorist enterprise.”
  2. “…identified him as Adlene Hicheur, 32, a French particle phycisist born in Algeria … [was] arrested on Thursday in hi home in Vienne, France, on suspicion of having contacts with a member of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a Sunniextremeist group based in ALgeria that has affiliated itself with Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.”
  3. “some incriminating evidence was in the form of e-mail messages and other communications obtained at the time of Dr. Hicheur’s arrest.”
  4. “Dr. Hicheur is part of a 49-member team from the Laboratory for High Energy Physics at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne that is working on one experiment at CERN’s large Hadron Collider, as part of a 700-member international group.”
  5. “The research [for his Ph.D. from university of Savoie] was done at the Stanford Linear Collider in California, where he worked for several months in 2002 as part of the BaBar collaboration.”
  6. “In principle, antimatter could be used to make a powerful bomb, because particles and their antiparticles annihilate each other into pure energy on contact.”
  7. “A spokesman for the technical school in Lausanne characterized Dr. Hicheur’s colleagues as being ‘extremely surprised adn in emotional shock’ at the possibility that he was a suspect.”

Law Enforcement, Misconduct, France, Physics


Overbye, Dennis, “Physicist’s Jailing Is Veiled in Mystery,” NYT March 14, 2011, Last checked March 24, 2011.

  1. “When Adlène Hicheur, a French-Algerian physicist working on antimatter at CERN’s enormous particle collider outside Geneva, was arrested on Oct. 8, 2009, on suspicion of conspiring with an Algerian branch of Al Qaeda, fears of doomsday plots rippled through the tabloid press.”
  2. “Last fall, the Swiss government closed its investigation of Dr. Hicheur, saying it had found no evidence of wrongdoing, but in France, Dr. Hicheur’s detention was extended. Last month, it was extended again, by four months. Press officers for France’s interior minister, Claude Guéant, did not respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment on the case.”
  3. “So, more than 500 days after his arrest, Dr. Hicheur, now 34, remains in preventive detention in a Paris prison without having been charged with any crime. Nor, say his lawyers and his family, has any evidence been produced that he did anything more than browse Islamic political Web sites. No trial has been scheduled.”
  4. “After months of silence, Dr. Hicheur’s family and colleagues have recently begun to speak out, urging his release. The issue, they say, is a simple matter of human rights. The long incarceration has turned Dr. Hicheur’s life into a Kafka novel, they say, and is endangering his physical and mental health, as well as his career and his family.”
  5. “Under French law, a person suspected of terrorist connections can be held in “provisional detention” for up to four years, depending on the nature of the alleged offense, without being charged or tried. Dr. Hicheur could be detained for up to two years, according to his lawyer, Dominique Beyreuther-Minkov.”
  6. “Nearly 100 scientists, including Jack Steinberger of CERN, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics, signed a letter to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, in December. They wrote, “It seems to us that there is no justification for the prolonged detention, of almost 14 months so far, of Dr. Adlène Hicheur, an internationally recognized scientist, held in much esteem by his colleagues.”
  7. “The unusual thing about Dr. Hicheur’s case, say his friends and supporters, is that it is happening to a scientist.”
  8. “After obtaining his Ph.D. under Dr. Lees at the Annecy laboratory, for work done partly at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford, Dr. Hicheur worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Britain and then joined the Laboratory for High Energy Physics at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. There, he is part of a team that operates LHCb, one of the giant particle detectors on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.”
  9. “Dr. Hicheur was arrested at his parents’ apartment in Vienne just as he was about to travel to Sétif to meet with a contractor about building a house on land he had recently bought there, and for which he had transferred about $18,000 to Algeria, his brother said. He was also planning to meet with physicists at the University of Sétif as part of a long-range goal to establish research collaborations with physicists in Algeria.”
  10. “According to news reports, Dr. Hicheur had been under surveillance for a year and had been in Internet contact with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al Qaeda’s North African affiliate. Shortly after the arrest, a French police official told Le Monde that Dr. Hicheur had planned to attack a military base in Annecy that is home to an elite force that had recently left for Afghanistan. The French authorities have been silent ever since.”

Law Enforcement, al-Qaeda, France, Physics, Scientist, Law