A leading nuclear physicist associated with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been charged with terrorism offences by a Paris judge after investigators said that he offered to work with the North African branch of Al-Qaeda.
According to a report in The Times, Adlene Hicheur, who is of Algerian origin, was arrested last week with his younger brother after intelligence agents intercepted his alleged Internet contacts with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The physicist, who works at the giant atomic collider at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), which straddles Swiss and French territory, told the Islamic group that he was interested in committing an attack, but had not begun any material preparation, according to police sources.
The sources added that Hicheur had acknowledged contacting the militant organization, Al-Qaeda.
Judge Christophe Teissier, of the anti-terrorist branch, ordered the French internal security service, the DCRI, to open an investigation into the possible offence of "association with criminals in relation with a terrorist enterprise".
Judge Teissier placed the scientist under formal investigation and ordered his detention.
The arrest raised the possibility that Islamic terrorists could be seeking nuclear weapons technology or planning to attack nuclear targets.
Hicheur is reported to have worked for the British Government's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire for about a year in 2005.
French officers placed him under surveillance last year after US intelligence services intercepted Internet messages he allegedly sent to contacts close to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.