They paid $15 to download one video

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SWISS POLICE BUST INTERNET CHILD PORN RING: 3 S’POREAN CUSTOMERS IDENTIFIED
They paid $15 to download one video
SWISS police have identified more than 2,000 people across the world who have downloaded images and videos from an online child pornography network spanning 78 countries.
By Liew Hanqing and Han Yongming
08 July 2009

SWISS police have identified more than 2,000 people across the world who have downloaded images and videos from an online child pornography network spanning 78 countries.

Three Singaporeans are among that number, according to a police spokesman.

Swiss federal police spokesman Kum Saerman told The New Paper that the three Singaporeans had allegedly downloaded material from a site hosted on a Swiss server in Vaud, one of the country’s 26 cantons.

‘After observing the site for half a year, the police started taking action,’ he said.

He did not reveal more about the Singaporeans.

Most of the suspects – 636 – are from the US, Mr Saerman said.

According to Swiss media reports, users of the child pornography Internet network were using a Hip-Hop website to buy pornographic videos and photographs featuring children.

The principal content of the site was legal, but users were able to access the illegal material with secret codes.

The users had paid US$10 ($15) to download one video and US$500 for the full collection of 101 titles, with proceeds going to operators in Russia.

Vaud police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel told the Swiss media that the videos were short and showed sexual acts being performed on children. It is not known where the videos were produced.

The administrator of the website did not know the site had been used to distribute child pornography, and had been cleared of wrongdoing, Mr Sauterel said.

Swiss federal police said ‘dozens’ of arrests had been made, following an Interpol tip-off last May about a Vaud-based website that was being used to direct Internet users to child pornography videos.

In Switzerland alone, 32 suspected cases of involvement in the network have been uncovered, leading to one man being fined.

To stem the tide of child pornography, authorities worldwide have been taking a hard line against offenders, with more resources dedicated to promoting the safety of children online.

In the UK, for example, a dedicated organisation – the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) – was formed in 2006 to curb the sexual abuse of children.

A spokesman for the CEOP told The New Paper that it actively polices the Internet for child pornography and child sex offenders, and helps investigates international cases whenever a British citizen is involved.

She said: ‘In such cases, we will share intelligence with the local authorities if they request it.’

Intervention

The spokesman added that CEOP officers routinely track the online activities of questionable individuals and intervene when necessary.

She said: ‘People seldom stumble upon pictures of children being sexually abused – they usually actively look for them.

‘Paedophiles usually possess pictures which are given to them willingly by the children themselves. They do not usually upload them to websites, but share them among fellow paedophiles.’

She added that, however, that netizens should always alert the authorities if they happen to come across pictures of children being sexually exploited.

According to statistics from CEOP, more than 700 arrests have been made since 2006 for online sex-related offences involving children.

And in Australia, all child sex offenders are registered on a database (the Australian National Child Offender Register) which allows police to monitor their movements.

Alerts are automatically generated when the ex-offender travels to another state or overseas.

OTHER ONLINE PREDATORS CAUGHT

1. German police said in Apr that they have broke up a child pornography network suspected of involving around 9,000 people in 92 countries.

These people are believed to have downloaded a 18-minute movie showing the rape of an eight-year-old Russian girl.

2. A British police officer working in a child abuse unit was arrested and charged in Apr with causing or inciting a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.

Andrew Rowe, who had worked for the local police for 12 years, was arrested after alleged inappropriate Internet communications with the girl, said police.

3. Last month, a 24-year-old American sailor, Christopher Wenzlick, was arrested in Virginia, US and charged with having sexually explicit online chats with an undercover police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Wenzlick was charged with three counts of taking indecent liberties with a child and one count of using a computer system for crimes against children, police said.

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