New assault on internet child pornography
The police say they are investigating 109 people in Switzerland as part of a worldwide operation targeting child pornography on the internet.
Nineteen of the 26 Swiss cantons, as well as the cities of Bern and Zurich, took part in the operation, which is the third of its kind in Switzerland.
Several thousand people worldwide are suspected of receiving and passing on pornographic material involving children through file-sharing programmes.
The Federal Police Office said 109 Swiss suspects – who include minors – had been questioned, and their homes searched in the past few months.
The material confiscated had still to be analysed, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Those questioned are believed to have visited internet sites, primarily used to exchange music and films, to pass on and receive child porn.
The operation began in Norway and Italy, but the investigation soon spread to other countries. In Switzerland, 19 cantons across the country were involved in investigating suspects.
The police sweep follows two other major operations against child pornography in Switzerland.
In September 2004, almost 400 people were investigated during an operation codenamed “Falcon”. To date 18 suspended prison sentences have been handed down in connection with the investigation and 12 fines imposed.
“Falcon” was preceded by operation “Genesis”, the biggest so far in Switzerland, in which 1,000 people were questioned.
"[These raids] targeted mainly commercial providers, but now we are after individuals," a spokesman for the Federal Police Office said.
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Swiss law does not forbid the viewing of child pornography on the internet but punishes the downloading of images with up to one year in prison and/or a fine.
The sale of pornographic images of children can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.
Child abuse is punishable by up to five years in prison.
A working group of specialists from the federal authorities, cantons and non-governmental organisations is currently studying the problem of child porn on the internet.
The justice and police authorities are also preparing a nationwide campaign against internet child pornography.
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