A court in France has sentenced a scientist convicted of plotting a terror attack in allegiance with al Qaeda in northern Africa to a five year prison sentence.
Adlene Hicheur, a French-Algerian researcher at Switzerland's CERN laboratory on the Swiss-French border, was convicted of "criminal association with a view to plotting terrorist attacks" by a French court on Friday. He has been in jail since his arrest in October 2009 awaiting trial.
The charges stemmed from an email exchange Hicheur had with Mustapha Debchi, who is believed to be a leading member of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Prosecutors claimed that Hicheur indicated his willingness to participate in a terror attack by identifying potential targets in France and suggesting a military base in the Haute-Savoie region.
Hicheur's lawyers Patrick Badouin (pictured above) claims that the email exchange took place during a "turbulent" period when he was being treated for a slipped disc in his back and that his email exchange with Debchi did not reflect an actual intention to carry out an attack.
His defense team also said he was the victim of overzealous French prosecutors who have been on high alert because of a high-profile terror case in France. Another man of Algerian descent killed seven, including three school children, in the Toulouse area in March in three attacks.
mz/msh (AFP, dpa, AP)