Dutch police infiltrate hidden child porn websites in the U.S.

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AMSTERDAM (BNO NEWS) — Dutch police have discovered huge amounts of child pornography during an investigation into hidden websites on the internet, prosecutors announced on Wednesday. Two servers which were closed were located in the United States.

The investigation was launched to assess the network of 27-year-old Robert Mikelsons, of Amsterdam, who has confessed to sexually abusing dozens of young children while being employed at two Amsterdam nurseries between February 2007 and January 2010. He also offered his services through several websites. Mikelsons is believed to have abused at least 87 young children.


Prosecutors said Mikelsons visited hidden websites on the internet by using anonymity network Tor, which enables users to browse websites anonymously by routing their web traffic through the computers of other Tor users. The hidden websites were not only used to exchange child pornography, but also to discuss the abuse of children and the production and distribution of child pornography.

Dutch police were able to access twelve of the hidden websites by breaking their security. “The investigating team obtained administrative privileges of four websites,” the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement. “The two servers which these websites ran on turned out to be located in the United States.”

Child pornography, user lists, and chats with personal information were turned over by Dutch police to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for further analyses. “It involves tens of thousands of images of abused children. The servers were wiped clean after securing this material,” Dutch prosecutors said.

Eight other hidden websites were also infiltrated by police. And although investigators were unable to get administrative privileges on these websites, police were able to delete child pornography after the content was secured for further investigation.

“One of these sites, ‘Violent Desires’, included a discussion board where users spoke about the kidnapping, abusing, and killing of children,” the statement said. Visitors of those eight websites were informed about the investigation.

“Police were unable to get access to all hidden child pornography websites. On 11 child pornography websites, detectives registered as users and left warning messages with the Dutch police logo,” the statement said. “It was not revealed from which countries those ‘hidden services’ were offered.”

During the course of the investigation, police found a total of 220,000 images and videos of child pornography. “The photos and videos appear to be, after a first comparison with material confiscated earlier, part new and unknown child pornography,” prosecutors said, adding that the material was no more than five years old.

Prosecutors noted that their investigation was not against the Tor network, but only against the hidden websites. “The use of the Tor network is not illegal by definition. In some countries without freedom of expression, journalists and those against the ruling government use Tor.”

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