New Zealand probe saves 17 children from abuse around world

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Wellington, May 19 (IANS) At least 17 children around the world were rescued from sexual abuse after a New Zealand man involved in an online abuse network was apprehended, the department of internal affairs said on Thursday.

A probe by Christchurch-based internal affairs inspector led to a six-year-old girl in the US being identified and the arrest of the man who had been sexually abusing her, Xinhua news agency reported.

Inspector Paul Duke used information gleaned from the mobile phone of the man, Drew Webb, to alert police in Houston.

Duke seized Webb’s laptop and mobile phone in August 2014 after an online video chat website reported his activities to the department.

“I found a Facebook account of the American abuser and established his likely address using Google Earth street view,” Duke said in a statement.

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“I also sent pictures of the girl and her offender to Houston police and they found her when they visited the school.”

Other images recovered from the phone led to the identification of a six-year-old New Zealand girl featured in a video recording by Webb.

Further probe involving New Zealand Police resulted in 17 children rescued and 11 adults arrested and charged in various countries.

Webb was jailed on Wednesday for six years on charges involving making, distributing, importing and possessing objectionable child sex abuse photos and videos.

“Webb came closest to being involved in the actual abuse of children by pretending he had access to a child and encouraging others to send him pictures with his ‘user name’ on abused victims,” Duke said.

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