More than 200 adults have been arrested in an international investigation of child pornography, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday.
The agency’s director, John Morton, said 123 child victims were identified during the five-week investigation, which ended in early December. ICE and local authorities found 110 victims in 19 U.S. states, while the others were living in six countries elsewhere.
Morton declined to provide specific details about which foreign countries were involved, saying only that there were some cases in Mexico.
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Sunflower,” was part of ICE’s effort to find and rescue victims, and arrest abusers and people who make or transmit child pornography.
“We have to attack child exploitation relentlessly and together. There is no other way, there is no other answer,” Morton said. “It is a wrong among wrongs. We are literally defending the defenseless.”
Morton also announced arrest warrants for two unidentified adults charged in Los Angeles with molesting a girl who appeared in online photos to be about 13 when she was abused. The man and woman were identified only as “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” and authorities believe they may have been in the San Fernando Valley area north of Los Angeles when they abused the girl. Photos of the abuse investigators found online are believed to be about 11 years old, Morton said.
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says she is collecting evidence for filing possible new war crimes charges against supporters and opponents of Moammar Gadhafi during last year’s Libyan civil war.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she expects to decide soon on “the direction” of a possible new case that could see the first charges stemming from the Libyan civil war since the ICC issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi, his son and heir-apparent Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi in May 2011. They were accused of committing crimes against humanity by targeting civilians in a crackdown against rebels that led to the Libyan leader’s ouster and death.
Libya has challenged the ICC’s right to try Seif al-Islam. Bensouda said she doesn’t expect the tribunal’s judges to take too long to decide whether he should be prosecuted at the court in The Hague, Netherlands, or in his home country.
“I think they will … consider giving clarity to the parties and participants as soon as possible,” she said.
Members of the Syrian Free Army have announced the arrest of Husam Taher Husam , a self proclaimed former Syrian intelligence operative, who testified in the investigation of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Syrian opposition fighters posted a video on the internet allegedly showing Husam surrounded by men with machine guns.
The man identified himself as Husam and that he was witness in “the assassination of president martyr Rafik Hariri.”
“I have information, just get me to Beirut and i will give you surprises that you have never dreamed of,” the man told his captors.
Lebanon’s Future Movement official Mustapha Alloush told alarabiya.net that Husam is a “false witness” and that he is still in a Syrian agent.
In June 2011, the Netherlands-based the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued arrest warrants for four members of Hezbollah, an Islamic militant group based in Lebanon.
Interpol has also issued a “red notice” on the suspects, but so far Beirut has failed to arrest them and Hezbollah has denied responsibility.
Billionaire politician Hariri, along with 22 others including a suicide bomber, was killed in a huge car bomb blast in Beirut as Hariri was on his way home.