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Switzerland: Police sweep on child pornography ring

Publish Date: 10 Feb 2005

Source: AP WorldStream English

Swiss police sweep on suspected Internet child pornography ring

BERN, Switzerland   Swiss police carried out a nationwide sweep on the homes of 109 individuals suspected of involvement in an Internet child pornography ring, authorities said Thursday.

Officers searched homes and seized computers in 19 of Switzerland's 26 cantons (states), the Federal Office of Police said. It did not say if any suspects were arrested.

The operation was launched following tips from investigators in Norway and Italy, and focused on individuals suspected of involvement in an online child porn file exchange - similar to the exchange programs used by music fans - officials said.

In 2004, authorities in Italy said they had uncovered a suspected Swiss link following an investigation into 11 Internet-based child porn groups, leading to an operation in May that year against eight individuals.

In 2002, Swiss authorities carried out their biggest pedophile sweep, part of an international inquiry into customers of the U.S. Internet company Landslide Productions, whose owner was sentenced to 1,335 years in prison for spearheading the largest commercial child porn business uncovered in the United States.

Acting on information from the FBI, Swiss police investigated around 1,300 people accused of buying child pornography from the company.

Under Swiss law, the possession and downloading of hard porn - involving children, animals or violence - from the Internet carries the risk of fines or a maximum sentence of one year in prison. Merely looking at hard porn images is not a criminal offense.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press