Ten arrested in nationwide child porn sweep

A cyber market for child pornography is said to exist in 120 countries

A cyber market for child pornography is said to exist in 120 countries

(swissinfo.ch)

Swiss police have raided around 400 homes across the country in the biggest child pornography sweep since Operation Genesis in 2002.

Officials confirmed that ten people had been arrested, eight of whom are suspected of sexually abusing children.

Jürg Schäublin, spokesman for the Federal Police Office, told swissinfo that the investigation dated back to the middle of June.

The first stage of the operation focused on 47 suspects who were singled out either because they work with children or because they have previous convictions of being in possession of child pornography.

“This is a big operation... and very important. We are confident that we are sending a signal that Switzerland does not tolerate child pornography," said Schäublin.

The names of hundreds of individuals came to light as a result of internet monitoring by police, both in Switzerland and in the United States.

Cantonal police searched hundreds of homes during the first two weeks of September.

It was the biggest coordinated raid since Operation Genesis, when more than 1,000 suspected child pornographers were questioned in Switzerland.

Signal

Schäublin said the large quantity of material seized during the police raids meant that investigations would probably continue into next year.

“In the meantime, people will be questioned. There’s still a lot to do, but a lot of positives have come out of this,” he said.

The investigation, which relates to the sale of child pornography on the internet, is part of a coordinated police effort in more than 120 countries.

The crackdown has its origins in the United States, where the authorities have carried out investigations into companies suspected of being behind child pornography internet sites.

Around 20 sites were found to contain more than 100,000 photographs and video files, two-thirds of which are considered to be illegal.

List of names

Police said they had been working from a list of names provided by the US authorities. Individuals were traced because they allegedly used their credit cards to subscribe to websites that had been placed under investigation.

Officials said the raids had taken months of preparation and involved the careful monitoring of suspects who accessed the internet.

“At the Federal Police Office we are very active in monitoring, and have to be patient,” said Schäublin.

But Pascal Seeger, a campaigner for the anti-paedophile non-governmental organisation Action Innocence, said he was not impressed by the latest raids.

“The day such an operation comes from Swiss police and not [as a result of tip-offs from] police in the United States is the day that substantial progress is made in this country,” Seeger told swissinfo.

Seeger – a former police officer - added that punishments for child pornographers in Switzerland were still “too light” and more needed to be done to deter paedophiles from using the internet to download material.

Anyone found guilty of downloading child pornography in Switzerland faces up to one year in prison.

Distribution of child pornography images carries a maximum three-year prison sentence.

swissinfo, Elizabeth Meen

Key facts

Swiss police raided more than 400 homes in the first two weeks of September.
Officials said that at least ten people had been arrested.
It was the largest investigation of its kind since Operation Genesis led to the questioning of more than 1,000 suspected child pornographers.

In brief

Under Swiss law, the downloading and sale of child pornography is illegal.

The sale of images is punishable by up to three years in prison. Downloading images is punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year.

Judges have the authority to add an unlimited fine to any prison sentence.

Child abuse is punishable by up to five years in prison.



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