Hi-Tech Hunt Nabs Swirled Photos Suspect

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Updated: A high-tech hunt featuring an unprecedented online Interpol appeal to the public for help has led to the arrest of a Canadian teacher who is allegedly the subject of photos posted on the Internet that show an adult male sexually abusing boys in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Christopher Paul Neil, 32, was arrested by Thai police, after detectives traced him by showing a recent customs photo taken at the Bangkok airport to people who knew the adult companion with whom Neil was traveling, reports Reuters. The arrest ends a three-year investigation by police on three continents, which apparently began when the Internet photos–on which the man’s face had been digitally “swirled” to make it unrecognizable–came to the attention of authorities. The boys depicted are believed to be as young as six, according to the news agency.

As discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, German police reportedly were able to reverse the swirling process. The likeness they created was then posted by Interpol online, in an appeal to the public which led to the identification of Neil as the alleged subject. In order to find Neil’s adult companion and hence Neil himself, Thai authorities apparently traced the companion, once he was identified, by tracking his use of his cell phone, according to Reuters.

“The irony that we used the Internet to publicize our message is not lost, in that he or somebody originally posted images of him abusing children on the Internet,” says Michael Moran, an Interpol case officer based in Bangkok.

Bloomberg (“Thailand Holds Pedophile Suspect After Photo Decoded”)

(Updated at 12:10 p.m., CDT.)

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