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Reports: Hadron Collider physicist arrested on terrorism charges

A 32-year-old nuclear physicist, one of the 7,000 people working on the Large Hadron Collider, is arrested on suspicion of advising al-Qaeda.

A 32-year-old nuclear physicist, part of the Large Hadron Collider project on the Swiss-French border, has been arrested by French police on suspicion of involvement with al-Qaeda.

According to The Independent, the arrest was made after anti-terrorist police had followed his movements for more than a year. Le Figaro newspaper suggested that the man's name had originally come to light in connection with the "Afghan network" of terrorist groups based in Europe.

CC Ethan Hein/Flickr

Of Algerian origin, he was arrested together with his brother, who was not working on the Collider.

Sources told The Independent that the scientist was not thought to be threatening the Collider itself, but rather was helping terrorists choose nuclear targets for attack.

The French Ministry of the Interior told Le Figaro that, having seized the man's two computers, three hard disks, and several USB keys, it believed the threat was serious. A Ministry spokesman said, "Our investigation showed without doubt that there were targets in France and elsewhere and indicated that we have perhaps avoided the worst."

CERN reassured the Independent that the suspect was not working on any of the major elements of the Collider, nor did he have access to the tunnel in which the Big Bang experiment is to be carried out. The CERN representative added, "None of our research has potential for military application, and all our results are published openly in the public domain."

The Collider is due to for a restart in November. One can only hope it's a safe one.