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More than 1,000 in Denmark charged with child pornography for sharing video

So far 1,004 people across Denmark are facing preliminary charges – a step short of formal charges. If found guilty, they could face fines, jail or be banned from working with children.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2018 15:58 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies, Copenhagen
sex video,Denmark National Police,1000 charged for sharing sex video
Two videos – one 50 seconds long, the other nine seconds – and photos were shared through Facebook’s Messenger chat platform.(Representative photo)

More than 1,000 people, mostly teenagers, face preliminary charges of distributing child pornography after sharing videos and photos of two 15-year-olds having sex, the Danish National Police said on Monday.

More people could be charged for spreading the images, the police said. The material could constitute distribution of child pornography even though 15 is the age of consent in Denmark.

Police spokesman Flemming Kjaerside said “young people know it can have huge consequences” to share such material, although he acknowledged they may not know it is a crime.

So far 1,004 people across Denmark are facing preliminary charges – a step short of formal charges. If found guilty, they could face fines, jail or be banned from working with children for a decade.

Two videos – one 50 seconds long, the other nine seconds – and photos were shared through Facebook’s Messenger chat platform last fall and police said anyone who forwarded the video violated the law against distributing child pornography.

The case prompted outrage when it was first reported last year because the video apparently showed the girl being abused with foreign objects. The girl later said she consented to sex but not to the abuse or the recording.

Prosecutors will now decide whether to proceed with charges and take the cases to trial. Investigators are looking into whether the video was distributed on platforms other than Facebook.

“It may sound very dramatic that we’re charging with child pornography,” said Kjaerside. “Many had no intention to distribute child pornography but objectively speaking, that’s what they’ve done.”

Those found guilty in the Danish case are unlikely to go to prison but the convictions will remain on their records for 10 years, barring them from becoming police officers and from taking certain jobs working with children., Kjaerside said some people confessed as police across Denmark contacted the accused and their parents, and conducted the first rounds of questioning.

It is not clear whether all of the people charged knew the boy and girl in the videos were under 18, the minimum age for legally distributed pornography. If they convince a judge they had no way of knowing, the child pornography charges could be dropped, but they could still be charged with distributing material without the consent of the couple.

All but eight of the accused are under 25, and four-fifths are male.

The case came to light after Facebook alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US, which in turn contacted American and international authorities. Danish police spent months identifying social media users, their IP addresses, phone numbers and names.

The girl in the video told Information, a Danish newspaper, that one of the people responsible for the videos tried to use the footage to blackmail her. She said she received a message saying: “I have a video of you. If you don’t send me a nude photo, I’ll share it with all of my friends.”

“I tried to forget that evening,” she said. “I knew that it was filmed, but I didn’t realise they would think of passing the videos on to others.”

First Published: Jan 16, 2018 15:58 IST