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Child pornography sweep nets 67 suspects in Germany

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY SWEEP NETS 67 SUSPECTS IN GERMANY

The homes of 67 suspects have been searched in Germany in a nationwide sweep against child pornography on the internet, the public prosecutor in Frankfurt and the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation said on Thursday.

German prosecutors said Thursday they had carried out nationwide raids against people believed to possess child pornography, targeting nearly 70 prime suspects.

State prosecutors in the western city of Frankfurt said in a statement that the searches of the suspects' homes, coordinated by the federal police force, were conducted over the last two weeks.

Officers confiscated evidence including computers and hard drives.

"The 67 suspects -- ranging in age from 18 to 80 -- are believed to have illegally used the internet service 'Chatstep' to exchange pornographic images and videos of children," the prosecutors said.

They hailed the cooperation with US-based online group chat service Chatstep, which it noted was required under US law to report all cases of child pornography.

The raids come two weeks after German prosecutors announced they had smashed a major international online child pornography platform used to organise sexual abuse of children and arrested its suspected administrator.

The site known as "Elysium" had 87,000 members who traded images and video files of "the most serious sexual abuse of children, including babies," prosecutors said on July 6.

Darknet sites like the one uncovered in the case are invisible to most internet users and can only be accessed by using encryption technology.

They have repeatedly been used by criminals to trade drugs, weapons and child pornography.

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