Police have the identifies of 36 Norwegians who were customers of a website that produced and sold photos of children while they were being sexually abused. More than 300 others have been arrested in the case worldwide, while nearly 400 children have been found and rescued from their abusers.
The case was continuing to unfold on Thursday, with Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reporting that the 36 Norwegians involved live all over the country. Four are in Oslo, another four in Rogaland County on the west coast and the rest from Eastern Finnmark in the north to Agder in the south.
The BBC reported that more than 100 persons have been arrested in Canada, 76 in the US and 164 in other countries. Canadian police reported that 341 persons were arrested and 386 children rescued.
The arrests came after a three-year-long international investigation called Project Spade into the production and sale of child exploitation videos and photos over the Internet. A man in Toronto was allegedly operating a website called azovfilms.com that sold and distributed the images to customers around the world. He was arrested in 2011 and charged with possession of child pornography and advertising, importing and exporting child pornography and laundering sales proceeds from it.
The 42-year-old man was also charged with paying “various people” to film children for the purpose of creating movies for sale on his website.
Admissions from 19 in Norway
Norwegian police said that 19 of the Canadian’s customers who are scattered around Norway have admitted to the purchase and/or possession of the illegal material. One person has been convicted so far and sentenced to three months in jail.
Bjørn-Erik Ludvigsen of the state police unit Kripos said that the customers in Norway “come from all levels of society, all income levels,” calling them seemingly “ordinary people.” Canadian police said that among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, 32 persons who worked with children, six employees of the police, nine priests and three foster parents.
The pornographic films and photos were sold on DVDs in 94 countries.