I just thought of it as an experiment, says Richard Handl

Some enjoy gardening as a hobby, but for Sweden's Richard Handl, his favourite pastime was splitting atoms in his kitchen.

Handl, 31, was arrested in western town of Angelholm on charges of unauthorised possession of nuclear material, Helsingborgs Dagblad, a Swedish newspaper, reported. “I've always been interested in nuclear physics and particle physics. I have read many books about it and wanted to see if it worked. I just thought of it as an experiment,” he said.

He recently contacted Sweden's nuclear authority and asked if it was permitted for an individual to build a nuclear reactor at home. Alarmed by Handl's query, the nuclear authority informed the police, who raided his apartment and arrested him.

“I was arrested and sent to jail when the police and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority searched my apartment,” the nuclear enthusiast wrote on a blog detailing his project.

“They took all my radioactive stuff, but I was released after a hearing. But I am still a suspect for crime against the radiation safety law,” he said.

Handl, who invested $ 5,000 to $ 6,000 on his project, brought radioactive materials, as well as a Geiger counter, which he ordered from the United States. He also dismantled smoke detectors, which contain small amounts of nuclear material. If convicted, Handl could face fines or up to two years in prison.