Criminal Justice

Interpol Plans Increased Use of Internet as Investigatory Tool

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After a swiftly successful unprecedented Internet appeal for public help last month in identifying a child sex abuse suspect, an international law enforcement agency says it will use the technique again—and not just in child abuse cases.

“This affair opened another dimension to investigations in coming years, new prospects and new options that should be considered,” said Jean-Michel Louboutin, director of police services for Interpol, at the world law enforcement agency’s general assembly in Morocco today. In particular, Interpol officials suggested that such Internet appeals may be helpful in terrorism cases, reports Reuters.

As detailed in earlier accounts, last month’s appeal focused on a suspect whose face had been digitally “swirled” to disguise his identity in photographs of him posted online allegedly sexually abusing underage boys. However, German police were able to reverse this process and produce a recognizable image.

When law enforcement authorities couldn’t identify it, Interpol in a first-ever effort posted the image online and asked for the public’s help. Within days, Interpol received hundreds of tips including multiple reports claiming that the posted photograph showed Christoper Paul Neil, a 32-year-old Canadian who had been teaching school in South Korea. He was arrested soon afterward in Thailand.

Neil denies charges that he molested underage boys in Thailand.

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