Over 1,000 Danish children and youngsters have been charged by the police with sharing a sex video involving a 15-year-old girl and several boys.
The many defendants face charges of distributing child pornography as part of a co-ordinated police effort that dates back to 2015 and goes by the name of ‘Operation Umbrella’.
“It’s a very big and complex case that has taken a long time to investigate, not least because of the large number of people charged,” said Lau Thygesen, a police inspector with North Zealand Police who is the lead investigator on the case.
“We’ve taken the case very seriously as it has had serious consequences for those involved because of how the material has been spread. And it must be stopped.”
The majority of those charged have shared the video a couple of times, but there are some who have shared it hundreds of times.
The police action is the largest in Danish history involving the sharing of offensive images of children.
Those found guilty face conditional sentences of around 20 days in prison, while the conviction will go on their criminal record for at least two years. They will also spend at least ten years on the child offence registry – which would bar them from working in jobs relating to children, such as teaching, sports coaching etc.
The case began in 2015 when Facebook received reports that two video sequences and an image containing sexual material involving individuals under the age of 18 were being shared among young people on the chat-platform Messenger.
The material continued to be shared until late 2017 before Facebook informed the US authorities, which passed the info on to Europol, which in turn alerted the Danish police.
The North Zealand police district had the highest number of people charged with 286, followed by Copenhagen (183), Copenhagen’s Western Suburbs (151) and East Jutland (77). There was even one person charged in Greenland.