Australian police arrest 19 men in online child abuse crackdown
PHOTO CAPTION: Representational photo of Australian police officers standing outside a property in a suburb of Melbourne during a 2018 counterterrorism raid. (Reuters)
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police arrested 19 men for allegedly sharing child-abuse material online and saved 13 children from further harm after receiving intelligence from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), authorities said on Tuesday.
The investigation began in Australia last year after the murder of two FBI agents in Florida in 2021 who were investigating child abuse in the United States, police said.
The FBI then tipped off Australian police about members of a peer-to-peer network in the country allegedly sharing child-abuse material on the dark web, AFP Commander Helen Schneider said during a news conference.
"The longer people like this avoid detection, the longer the cycle of abuse continues. This was a sophisticated network," Schneider said.
The men, aged between 32 and 81 years old, distributed images and videos of child-abuse material, chatted on message platforms and allegedly used encryption to avoid detection.
Most Australian offenders were employed in jobs that required a high degree of knowledge of internet networks. Some are accused of having produced their own child abuse material, police said.
Two Australian offenders have been sentenced to jail while the others were on trial. The related FBI investigation has led to the arrest of 79 people.
(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates)