22 Australians charged over child pornography
By ROD McGUIRK,Associated Press Writer AP - Friday, December 12
CANBERRA, Australia - Australian detectives have charged 22 men including a policeman, a senior lawyer and a child care worker in connection with a child pornography-sharing network spanning 70 countries, police said Thursday.
The investigation into men sharing images over the Internet _ rather than downloading from an illicit Web site, a crime that is easier to detect _ was prompted by information from a covert Brazilian police investigation a year ago, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.
The Brazilian information, which was shared via the international policing network Interpol, identified more than 200 suspects in 70 countries, he said.
"These are some of the worst images, I must say, that the Federal Police have ever seen," Colvin told reporters.
Australian police have seized 500,000 images of child abuse and 15,000 videos, some showing children being abused for more than two hours. The victims were as young as 12 months old, he said.
Those charged in Australia include a Queen's Counsel, the nation's most senior and lucrative rank of attorney, a police officer and at least one child care worker, Colvin said. Police did not say whether any arrests were made outside Australia in connection with the case.
None of those charged can by law be identified before they appear in court.
"These offenders have access to children, be it their own children, their neighbors' children, children from broken relationships, children they might have responsibility for _ some of these people are in positions of responsibility," Colvin said.
Two children had been removed from defendants although there was no evidence that they had been abused, he said.
Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said more arrests were expected this week. All the charges relate to accessing the images and could result in a 10-year prison sentence for possessing child abuse material.
The victims were mostly from the Americas as well as eastern Europe, he said.
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