Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has been denied release from custody for the third time by a French court before his trial for alleged sex crimes, based on new evidence gathered from his phone and computer.
IT experts who examined Mr Ramadan’s electronic devices found discrepancies between the data collected from the devices and the version of events presented by the Swiss theologian, said French news agency AFP.
The 82-page IT report filed on September 24 includes explicit SMS messages sent by Mr Ramadan to two of the plaintiffs. This contradicts Mr Ramadan's statements, in which he claimed to have never had sexual intercourse with the two women.
The French court cited this as grounds for keeping Mr Ramadan in detention.
Mr Ramadan is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Oxford and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna.
The 56-year-old, who has been held in a prison south of Paris since February 2, could face up to 15 years in jail if convicted of rape charges, and another 20 years for the sexual assault of a disabled woman.
A third appeal for his release was rejected by a French court, on the grounds that the treatment of multiple sclerosis – which the Oxford professor suffers from – is compatible with detention. Mr Ramadan’s attorneys had unsuccessfully lobbied for their client to be released on bail.
Earlier this month Mr Ramadan had been subject to a 10-hour-long interrogation at the presence of one of his accusers, identified as Christelle. The disabled woman claimed to have been raped and beaten in a hotel room in the French city of Lyon in 2009.
Mr Ramadan is also under inquiry for the allegation filed by French feminist and former Salafi Henda Ayari, as well as by a Swiss woman who claimed she was raped in a hotel room in Geneva in 2008.
Mr Ramadan’s brother, Bilal, filed an appeal to Swiss Confederation President Alain Berset signed by 250 of Mr Ramadan’s supporters, including notable names among the Swiss political ranks.
His supporters pleaded for Mr Berset to pressure French authorities into releasing him. Mr Ramadan has denied all charges and maintains he is the victim of a smear campaign.