Australian Police Arrest 70 in Global Child Porn Crackdown

SYDNEY ~ Seventy men in Australia have been arrested in a global crackdown on internet child pornography and more will be detained, police said.

The interpol-led probe involving 170 countries was launched after a hacker posted 99 child porn images on a European website, which attracted 12 million hits in just 76 hours.

More than 2,800 computer internet protocol (IP) addresses were traced back to Australia and federal police identified all of them in a six-month operation, Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said.

“You will see more arrests, the investigations are continuing,” Keelty told reporters.

Keelty said the first arrests were made in cases where children might be in danger and four children had been taken from their homes.

Several teachers, a federal police officer and a sports administrator were reportedly among those arrested.

“It’s really one of the largest single operations we’ve done on child pornography with our international partners and our state police partners here in Australia,” Keelty said.

“You’re talking about 12 million hits from around the world but in a small time period of three days.

“In Australia the operation has netted over a million images of children, and these are not children in passive positions, these are children who are being abused.”

The children range in age from babies to 18 years old, he said.

“They come from various countries; the real tragedy of this is that we don’t know the origins of a lot of these children.

“We don’t know whether these children are still being the victims of child abuse.”

The flood of hits on the website came after word got around online paedophile networks that the images were available and the website’s address was circulated, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Almost 150,000 different computer users from 170 countries accessed the otherwise obscure website in just 76 hours, the paper said.

The assistant director of police high tech operations, Andrew Colvin, told reporters all those arrested were men but they were impossible to stereotype.

“We’ve seen everything from teenagers, 19-year-olds, through to 80-year-olds,” he said.

“We’ve seen school teachers, police officers… people in positions of trust, positions of responsibility, farmers, bankers, pharmacists, every walk of life.”

Keelty said the child porn network was a vicious cycle.

“To get in you’ve actually got to be supplying something yourself and that means more children will be abused,” he said.

“The viewing of these images continues the abuse, it’s an horrific crime.”

The maximum penalty for possessing child pornography is 10 years in jail.

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