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World Briefing / Switzerland

Atom smasher physicist held

October 10, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A physicist working at the world's largest atom smasher has been arrested on suspicion of links to Al Qaeda, adding to the woes of the $10-billion project near Geneva that ceased operation just days after its celebrated start a year ago.

The scientist, arrested in Vienne, France, is suspected of involvement with the group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a French official said. The North African group regularly targets Algerian government forces and occasionally attacks foreigners.

The official said the suspect was one of two brothers arrested Thursday. The official requested anonymity because the case is ongoing.

Police said the brothers, who were not identified, are French and are 25 and 32. The arrest was part of a French judge's inquiry into suspected terrorist links.

The physicist had been assigned to analysis projects at the laboratory since 2003. He was one of more than 7,000 scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest atom smasher, said the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN.

The physicist had no contact with anything that could be used for terrorism, CERN said in a statement.

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