In 2009, Hadlène Hicheur, a post-doc at Lausanne’s EPFL, was arrested in Vienne, France, while he was visiting is parents. Two years later, he remains in jail, without being charged. Nature wrote something on him. I don’t really see the need of pilling on what Nature has to say, the article is very good in pointing the unwillingness of scientific societies to defend early career scientists from abuse from governements or even corporation. In this respect, USA under Bush was very much about attacking climate scientist, France isn’t better : a libel action has been filed after an INSERM scientist wrote a book depicting the strategies of the food industry, particularly with respect to salt, (fr) and another had is career menaced from is position against GMOs in food or fields.
In the specific case of Hicheur, though, there is several things to say: although it is legal under the french judicial system to maintain someone in custody for that long, it is a crime against human rights to do so. Furthermore, this government is known to “invent“ terrorists threats. In 2008, there was the Tarnac affair (fr), where the prosecutors failed to provide evidence that the accused actually committed a terrorist act —an act claimed by a german ecologist group (fr). The “suspected terrorists” are still under investigation, and spent several months in prison before being released. There was also, in the late nineties, the “Chalabi Network” case, were more than 120 persons were accused of terrorist conspiration, once these people were tried, 90 % weren’t found guilty of anything.
Although I understand the need of protecting the people against terrorist threats, this protection shouldn’t be made at the cost of human rights, as Thomas Jefferson said, people that are ready to forfeit freedom for security deserve neither… And will probably have neither, as civil liberties are the best guarantee against state brutality.
Sorry for the links in French but I couldn’t find links in English for these stories.