Possible U-turn on Austrians in child porn crackdown

Fourteen Austrians whose online activities were supervised by international anti-child pornography investigators may face charges despite not having downloaded any banned material.People’s Party (ÖVP) Justice Minister Claudia Bandion-Ortner said today (Fri) she assigned a team of experts to find out whether the men could be charged after Austrian Crime Office (BK) officials explained there were no legal grounds to become active against them.A spokesman for the BK said yesterday the men “only exchanged information” in an internet forum frequented by child molesters. The police officer said it turned out that the 14 Austrians did not download any images or video clips – an action for which they could have faced jail.Now Bandion-Ortner announced her ministry will look into the issue to determine whether the issue could be considered as a legal loophole. The minister explained that the men’s chats could have been a criminal act if the conversations suggest they were planning to abuse minors or already did so before.Europol, an anti-crime authority of the European Union (EU), said earlier this week it identified 670 suspects of whom 184 were arrested in an extensive operation focusing on an infamous child pornography platform run via a Dutch internet server.News that the Austrians entangled in the scandal may face legal consequences comes just weeks after 107 Austrians were caught downloading underage porn from a server in Luxembourg. Four teachers and one kindergarten carer were among the caught offenders aged between 18 and 70, according to the police.