Fox News reports that Adlene Hicheur, a French nuclear physicist of Algerian descent who once worked at Switzerland’s renowned CERN laboratory, is being tried in Paris on charges of collaborating with Al Qaeda in North Africa. His attorneys claim he only sent angry emails. They are afraid their clients would be unfairly linked with the Toulouse murderer.
Hicheur spent two and a half years in prison, awaiting the trial which has begun Thursday. But now that the trial has started, the timing couldn’t be worse for the scientist:
“I think that there should be no confusion between Mohamed Merah and Adlene Hicheur,” said Hicheur’s attorney Patrick Baudouin. He argued that Adlene Hicheur “has a family, friends, working colleagues, a stable entourage. He has never been in Afghanistan nor in any other such country.”
Hicheur’s brother Halim also complained that after the killings in Toulouse, “Some people wanted to raise the specter of the terrorism threat by the Algerian, Muslim nuclear physicist, etc. All the key words you can name.”
The prosecutors base their case on a period back in 2009, when Hicheur sent out a string of angry e-mails calling for the punishment of the West for its anti-Muslim wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The defense argues that the scientist wasd laid up with a herniated disk at the time, and the emails were merely an expression of his pain and frustration.
Attorney Baudouin told Fox News that Hicheur was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Oct. 8, 2009, at his parents’ home in southeastern France, hours before he was to take a flight to Algeria to work on a real estate purchase.
French investigators analyzed some 35 emails between Hicheur and a recipient they suggest was his Al-Qaida contact, an Algerian named Mustapha Debchi. Some emails mention possible targets, including a French army barracks in the Alps.