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October 10, 2009

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Nuclear physicist arrested over alleged terrorist ties

FRENCH police have arrested a nuclear physicist on suspicion that he had links to terrorist organizations in Algeria, the European Organization for Nuclear Research said yesterday.

The man was one of more than 7,000 scientists working at the organization and has been assigned to analysis projects under contract with an outside institute, said the organization, known as CERN.

The man had no contact with anything that could be used for terrorism, said the organization. The LHCb experiment where he worked is the smallest of a series of installations along the 27-kilometer circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border.

The projects are aimed at making discoveries about the makeup of matter when the Large Hadron Collider -- the world's largest atom smasher -- starts collecting data later this year or early next year.

"LHCb is an experiment set up to explore what happened after the Big Bang that allowed matter to survive and build the universe we inhabit today," said a description on the organization's Website.

The Big Bang was a vast explosion that scientists theorize was the beginning of the universe 14 billion years ago.

The European laboratory has been working for years to build the collider.

The organization said the unidentified man was arrested in the French city of Vienne.

The prosecutor's office in the Isere region said the case has been transferred to the anti-terrorist section of the Paris prosecutor's office.

There was no confirmation from the Paris prosecutor's office or the French Interior Minister.

"None of our research has potential for military application, and all our results are published openly in the public domain," the organization said in a statement.


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