Soon after the end of Ramadan, at a time when Muslim families celebrate the end of a month of fasting, Brazilian police conducted a raid on the home of a dual nationality French-Algerian scientist in Rio, just after he had finished a video conference on his specialisation in particle physics, the phenomenon of Meson decay. The same day, 15th July 2016, he was driven to the airport and deported to France, where he remains subject to a control order.
This lack of attention on the plight of the Algerian Muslim scientist Adlène Hicheur is a frequent feature in the so-called ‘War on Terror’, where due process of law is waived aside when it comes to dealing with any ‘suspect’ Muslims – repressive measures become the first recourse. Muslim advocacy and human rights bodies have a responsibility to ensure the matter is not forgotten, so that a miscarriage of justice and an illegal extradition can be put right, with French authorities brought to account.
As documented by Shoban Saxena and Florence Costa in thewire.in, ‘In 2009, while working at the world famous European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), he [Adlène Hicheur] was arrested by the French police  and charged with “criminal association with a terrorist group” (Al Qaeda in Maghreb). He spent 30 months in jail. It’s also public knowledge that he was tried for “associating” with an Al Qaeda man in Algeria through emails and web chats for “attacks in France”. Hicheur’s response is well known too: his participation in chats covered many international issues and he never planned any terrorist attack. It’s also not a secret that in May 2012, after 949 days in prison, Hicheur was released.’
With the help of research colleagues, he then found employment at the Brazilian Centre for Physics Research (BCPR) and later at the Federal University of Rio de Janerio. The science journalist Declan Butler writing in Nature on Hicheur (Vol. 357, 15 September 2016) quotes Ignacio Beidagia, head of BCPR, stating ‘In my opinion, Dr Hicheur was illegally extradited at the request of the French government’. Declan Butler adds, ‘In an interview with the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, justice minister Alexandre de Moraes said Hicheur had not communicated with terrorist groups, or committee any crime while in Brazil . . . at the airport, Hicheur repeatedly requested that he be sent back to Algeria (the nationality on his Brazilian work visa) or anywhere other than France, fearing that he would be confined under the state-of-emergency laws’.
This was a legitimate fear: since his return Hicheur has been under house arrest, and required to report to police three times a day and cannot leave home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
While at CERN, Hicheur worked on the Large Hadron Collider ‘Beauty’ project, also known in the particle physics world as LHCb. He was on a video link with CERN collaborators when the Brazilian police knocked at his door on 15th July.
Declan Butler’s words in Nature should be a rallying call for activists:
. . . if an intelligent and articulate individual such as Hicheur (a Muslim) with a bevy of support from his scientific colleagues can find himself helpless, what then of the many others with much less capacity to defend themselves? Fairness, freedom, the rule of law and human rights – including the right to a defence – are the basis for a democracy. It is not easy in these times to defend these values, much less for someone convicted in the past of terrorism-related offences, but defend them we must.
Add your signature here https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/british-solidarity-with-dr-adlene-hicheur.html