‘Silence’ deals a blow to probe into porn scandal

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Web Desk

LAHORE: The Sargodha child pornography case, unprecedented in the country, suffered a blow when none of the children allegedly exploited or their parents approached by the Federal Investigation Agency were willing to record statement against the prime suspect.

“I did work with Manto uncle (suspect Saadat Amin’s nickname) but it is not me in the nude photos and videos you are talking about,” an FIA officer in Lahore quotes a boy as telling the agency.

“Please do not contact me again…Leave me out of this… it is too shameful a thing to talk about and I have nothing to do with it,” the officer cited the boy, aged 14 according to him, as having said.

Next, father of another child simply denied that he knew the 45-year-old Amin. “I don’t know who this man was and what business he did,” the man is said to have told the investigators. When told that his son’s ‘objectionable’ pictures were found in possession of Amin, he responded: “Those pictures are fake. Why do you want to create problems for us? Do you want us to flee our native town in shame? “

FIA received a similar response from some other children. The suspect is alleged to have used many children, including a couple who were related to him, in his pornographic films. The investigators forced him to cough up the addresses and telephone numbers of some of them but the refusal of the alleged victims and their families to openly pursue the case against Amin has come as a setback for the probe.

FIA had arrested Amin, an engineer by training, last week in Sargodha after information from the Norwegian embassy in Islamabad. The embassy had, through a letter, informed the government here that the police in Norway had arrested a man named Jane Lindstorm in connection with the child pornographic content and that Amin could be one of his accomplices in Pakistan. On Monday FIA obtained the second physical remand of the suspect for four days.

“The reaction of the affected children and their parents FIA contacted is understandable,” an FIA officer said. There is stigma attached to it and obviously the investigators would not want to influence any of the affected children and their families into speaking against the suspect. “But we are hopeful that someone from amongst them will eventually have the courage to break the silence,” he said.

The suspect may benefit to an extent because of a lack of witnesses but it is the FIA which is the complainant in this case and it “will try its best” to get to the truth.

FIA has booked Saadat Amin under sections 20, 21 and 22 of the new cyber crime law (Prevention of Electronic Crime Act). These sections carry an imprisonment of 15 years and Rs7million fine.

As investigation of the case continues, it has now come to light that the suspect was allegedly using “four fake Facebook accounts” in the name of four children. “Through these accounts he entered some European and Russian websites and asked for money for providing lewd footage involving children that he would have ready in his house in Sargodha city,” an interrogator told Dawn here on Monday.

“The amount he received through a number of transactions from Lindstorm and others via Western Union as payment for the videos and images (he produced) between 2007 and 2016 adds up to $38,000. We are also checking the payment he received from other channels/foreign currency exchange,” he said.

FIA has also seized yet another laptop allegedly belonging to the suspect and is in the process of retrieving data.

According to FIA, the suspect primarily made money by hacking the Russian, British, Dutch and the Bangladeshi porn websites besides producing nude images of the local children whom he lured on the pretext of providing them with computer education and (sometimes) paying them monthly stipends.

Some 65,000 child pornography video clips were recovered from one laptop of the suspect.

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