CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research has moved swiftly to play down the significance of the arrest on terrorism charges of a nuclear physicist who worked at the Large Hadron Collider for six years.
The man, who has not been named, was one of two brothers arrested on Thursday in the south-eastern French city of Vienne, after suspicions were raised that he has links to al-Qaeda’s Algerian cell, according to an Associated Press report.
Officials at CERN however were quick to dismiss any suggestions that the scientist may have had access to materials which could be used for terrorist purposes.
“CERN is a particle physics research laboratory whose research addresses fundamental questions about the universe,” read a CERN statement.
“None of our research has potential for military application, and all our results are published openly in the public domain. CERN is providing the support requested by the French police in this enquiry.”
CERN said the man was not an employee of the organisation and “performed his research under a contract with an outside institute”.
Nevertheless the news will be yet another blow to the research organisation, whose Large Hadron Collider project suffered a major fault soon after it began functioning during the summer.
It’s currently set for a restart in mid-November, according to CERN, but may have to run at only half power at first due to the scale of the damage. µ