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 Adlène Hicheur International Support Comitee

Last update on december 20, 2011
Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both (Benjamin Franklin)
Today, december 20th, 2011, marks the 802th day  (more than two years!) of "provisional detention" of our colleague Adlène Hicheur. He has been incarcerated without formal charge in Fresnes prison for more than 2 years under suspicion of having visited subversive websites. No material evidence has come to light to justify this treatment which is in flagrant contravention of the letter and spirit of European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). See also the editorial published this week in "Nature".

Join the support network, and denounce this scandalous situation, which dishonours France. In Europe, security policies introduced since 2011 or even earlier have been restraining public liberties and today, in france, nobody is protected from an arbitrary arrest under a simple suspicion, without any material evidence. The detention pending trial which usually follows can last up to two years.

French anti-terrorism magistrates abuse their powers and take advantage of the presumption that they conduct their investigations in an evenhanded, truth-seeking manner -- when in fact they behave more like a prosecutor in an adversarial legal system. We have seen from the Outreau affair what horrific results can occur when the juge d'instruction abandons this sacred mandate. It is time for the citizenry of France to wake up and start asking some serious questions about the fairness of judicial processes initiated by the 14th section (counter-terrorism judiciary). The liberty of one affects the liberty of all.

memorandum resuming the main facts of the affair, in english, updated on april 6th (pdf)

Latest news (december 2, 2011): Sorry for our english speaking readers, I could not maintain the english pages as regularly and accurately as the french ones. Here is a short summary of the situation: in june, the session with the bail judge resulted in a renewal of the provisionnal detention of Adlène for 4 month, i.e. until september. According to the french law, the provisional detention in a case such as Adlene's one is renewed every 4 month and cannot last more than 2 years. Therefore, the investigating magistrate, judge Christophe Teissier, has to close the investigations by the end of september. If he decides that there is a trial, and this is very likely, the law would allow the magistrate to keep Adlene in detention until the trial, and this can be an additional 8 months. The goal of Adlene's layers, Maitre Patrick Baudouin and Maitre Dominique Beyreuther, was of course to obtain the end of the provisional detention in case of trial. This would allow adlene to prepare his defence in good conditions and also to obtain the medical assistance which he needs and which is not available at the Fresnes Maison d'arrêt. We should have more informations by the end of september.

In june Adlene hired a new lawyer, maitre Patrick Baudoin, who is also honorary president of FIDH (International Dederation for Human Rights) . Mtre Baudouin is a well-known lawyer who defended several people accused in Islamic terrorism cases, including several cases handled by the famous anti-terrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere. He also represented relatives in the case of the murder of the Tiberine monks.

On october 15, after 2 years, the investigation was finaly closed by the instruction judge, Christophe Teissier, who sent the files to the prosecutor. The presecutor had 1 month to give his conclusions. We had to wait for 6 weeks and finally we learned only on december 2nd that the prosecution case had finally been received. It calls for the appearance of Adlene Hicheur before the criminal court, and for his continued detention. It is based only on the content of the internet mail exchanges, which means that in france, today, you can be kept in jail not for facts but for your political opinions. The defense has 12 days to file its demands for the case to be thrown out and for the release of Adlene. The “Juge d’instruction” will consider the prosecution allegations and the arguments of the defense team and make a final decision (as far as we understand). The relentless pursuit of Adlene continues – for what purpose?

Our colleague Adlene Hicheur was arrested more than one year ago at his parent’s home in Vienne, in the department of Isere.  After several days in custody he was placed under investigation and held in “provisional detention” under suspicion of having associated with people with terrorist contacts.  Since then he has remained in Fresnes prison.  In this case Adlene remains the only person to be detained in relation to this affair.

Adlene has consistently proclaimed his innocence and has fought against this incarceration, in a seemingly Kafkaesque state of affairs.  In spite of no tangible piece of evidence against him having been brought forward, all his requests for freedom have been turned down.    In spite of indications to the contrary, he received a fresh prolongation of his detention at the end of September 2010, with no objective reason given.  The same thing occured again at the end of january 2011. According to the scanty information available to us, the only motivation for this imprisionment seems to be slender: the suspicion of having visited internet forums with Islamic terrorist links.

As colleagues of Adlene we have been shocked by his arrest and prolonged detention [1].    The situation does not seem to be evolving and we are concerned for his personal and professional future as a particle physics reseacher, which has been seriously compromised.  This will remain the case, even if he is finally exonerated of all accusations against him.    Given that the situation seems to be completely stagnant, and his provisional detention could reach up to two years if nothing changes, we have decided to create a support network.    Our goal is to provide assistance and support to Adlene and to fight for his right to freedom or a fair trial where he will be able to defend himself.

[1]Many international reports have highlighted the arbitary nature of the French anti terrorist laws.    The criteria for acceptable levels of evidence for a case to be brought before a judge or a suspect to be arrested are very lenient.  It is possible for suspects to be kept in custody for months, or in cases years, on the basis of minimal information.  The tight links between the specialized judges in these cases and the anti-terrorist branches in France render the objectivity of the process highly questionable.  Please refer to “Preempting Justice: Counterterrorism Laws and Procedures in France”, Human Rights Watch, July 2008,                          

See also Lord Tomlinson report on human rights and the fight against terrorism "Human Rights and the fight against terrorism – Introductory memorandum, 8 November 2010, AS/Jur (2010) 44" (Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the European council)

The members of this comitee act as individual citizen  and NOT in the name of any of their home institutions