US, Norway help Philippines catch child sex video suspect

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Norwegian and US authorities have helped the Philippines capture a man they say exploited children by having them join sex videos which he then showed to paying foreign clients online, officials said on Friday. 

National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran said law enforcers from Norway and the US joined Filipino authorities in a raid on Thursday that led to the arrest of the suspect, Anselmo Ico Jnr, and the rescue of five minors – his alleged victims – in a poor village in Malolos city, north of Manila.

Such arrests and rescues in the Philippines point to lucrative crimes in which children, even toddlers, are made to remove their clothes and touch themselves in obscene ways while adults, often their parents, train video cameras on them in exchange for payment from paedophiles and other customers abroad.

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Philippine police have collaborated with their counterparts in Europe, Australia and the US to investigate and hunt suspects then prosecute them to fight a crime that thrives in poverty, unemployment and other dire social conditions.

“In Norway, the transnational crime of sexual exploitation of children is highly prioritised and we’re glad to see that your cooperation in this case so far has given us such tangible results,” Norwegian police official Sidsel Isachsen said at a news conference in Manila where Ico, a Filipino, was presented in handcuffs.

Norwegian anti-crime officials notified their Filipino counterparts in early January about the arrest of a Norwegian citizen, Ketil Andersen, who allegedly bought child sex videos made in the Philippines, Gierran said in a statement.

Norwegian crime investigators took over Andersen’s Skype accounts to communicate with his contacts in an effort that led them to Ico, Gierran said, adding that a private group, the International Justice Mission, helped authorities with the case.

When asked by Associated Press for his reaction, Ico acknowledged he produced the sex videos in which children took part but said the sex acts were staged.

“That’s fake news. It’s not real … because it can be staged easily,” Ico said as he was led away.

The suspect will be charged with violating laws against human trafficking, child abuse, child pornography and cybercrime, Gierran said.

Such crimes are increasing in the Philippines because of easy access to the internet and English fluency among many Filipinos, making it possible for suspects to communicate with would-be customers. – SCMP


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