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Child porn sweep nabs 1,300 suspects

The downloading of child pornography carries a maximum one-year sentence in Switzerland Keystone

Swiss authorities have launched a massive investigation into an international child pornography ring.

This content was published on September 25, 2002 - 08:55

The Federal Police Office announced on Tuesday that the 1,300 suspects included local officials, schoolteachers and high-ranking civil servants.

Spokeswoman Daniele Bersier said the nationwide swoop was being conducted in parallel with similar operations in Germany and other European countries.

Eighty people are under investigation in canton Vaud and the authorities in canton Bern have identified 118 suspects.

Suspects in canton Solothurn include an investigating magistrate, two teachers and a school psychologist.

Canton Obwalden announced on Tuesday that the head of its personnel department had resigned after he was named in the inquiry.

Swiss officials said they had acted on information from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which provided them with lists of customers of a US Internet company called Landslide Productions.

Child pornography

The company provided users - who paid a monthly fee - with links to child pornography websites with names such as "Cyber Lolita" or "Child Rape".

Subscribers could also place or respond to classified or personal ads for child pornography.

According to a statement issued by the Federal Police Office, the people under investigation are all accused of using credit cards to buy pornographic material from the Internet.

"We received initial information from the FBI in August 2001 and in June this year we ordered the cantons in question to launch investigations," the statement said.

Under Swiss law, the possession or downloading of hardcore pornography - involving children, animals or violence - from the Internet carries heavy fines or a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

But viewing child pornography on the Internet is not a criminal offence.

The owner of Landslide Productions, Thomas Reedy, was sentenced to life last year for leading the largest commercial porn business to be uncovered in the US. His wife Janice was jailed for 14 years.

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Key facts

Swiss authorities are investigating around 1,300 people accused of being involved in child pornography.
Schoolteachers, local officials and a high-ranking magistrate are among the suspects.
The Federal Police acted on information from the FBI.
Under Swiss law, the downloading of hardcore porn from the Internet carries a maximum sentence of one year.
But viewing child pornography on the Internet is not a crime.

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