February 23, 2018

FIA arrests man in Jhang for sharing child pornography with international ring

News Source: Dawn

Writer:  Wasim Riaz

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday, acting on a tip by Interpol Canada, arrested in Jhang an alleged member of a group that shared child pornography videos.

FIA anti-crime unit’s deputy director Khalid Anis said that 60 gigabytes worth of data was found on the laptop and computer of the accused, who is an electrical engineer by profession.

“The suspect is a part of an international gang that shares porn videos among themselves,” Anis said. “We’re investigating how many members there are in this group.”

The FIA said the suspect, who had joined the group two years ago, was traced with the help of PTCL and his IP address. He was arrested from the Saddar area of Jhung.

“I used to do this for mental gratification only,” the accused said.

“I had joined one group from where I found links to other groups.

FIA takes notice of child pornography

Following the unearthing of the ring, the FIA took notice of child sexual abuse and pornography in Pakistan, forming a two-member committee from its cyber crime wing to tackle the menace.

A notification issued in this regard directed all zonal incharges to compile reports on all registered cases regarding child sexual abuse and pornography in the country.

Punishment for child pornography in Pakistan

Pakistan’s laws did not contain punishments for child pornography until after the infamous 2015 Kasur child sexual abuse case, after which a law was passed that made the crime punishable.

But the two-to-seven-year prison sentence was deemed minute and not a big enough deterrent due to the amounts of money involved.

A bill for more severe punishment was passed by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior in October 2017.

Child pornography offences in Pakistan now carry a prison sentence ranging from 14 to 20 years.

Muhammad Shehzad from Express Tribune Reports: 

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested a man from Jhang, allegedly involved in uploading and downloading child pornographic content. The arrest by FIA’s Cyber Crime Cell in Lahore came late on Saturday night.

According to Khalid Anis, the Deputy Director of FIA’s anti-crime unit, the National Child Exploitation Centre of Interpol in Ottawa had shared intelligence with the FIA director general in Islamabad that four users of an app named KIK were exchanging pictures and videos in their chat.

Someone with the user account ‘tammaq’ was accessing from IP address ‘182.186.134.249’ related to the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), said the deputy director. Other users were from New Zealand, the United States and Sweden, he added.

The request was received by the project director of FIA’s Cyber Crime Cell in Islamabad and the inquiry No 530/2017 was marked to Assistant Director Muhammad Usman.

Usman told The Express Tribune that the FIA team started investigation into the matter two months back. During the investigation, he added, two attempts were made to arrest the suspect but there was no breakthrough.

The investigation team found that the PTCL’s IP address ‘182.186.134.249’ was registered against Muhammad Maqsood, holding the CNIC number 33202-1378141-7, said Usman, adding that they were careful not to raid a wrong place as the profile of Muhammad Maqsood did not fit the said activity.

He said they worked on the tip-off, and when they checked the family tree of Maqood, they spotted Taimur Maqsood. “It served as another tip for them regarding the user of the account ‘tammaq’,” he said, adding that the team found a similarity between the user account and the name of Taimur Maqsood “which is tam for Taimur and maq for Maqsood”.

The team then raided the house of the suspect in Sattelite Town, Jhang late on Saturday and took him in custody, said the official, adding that the suspect confessed to his crime during interrogation. The raiding party also took his digital gadgets, laptop, cellphone and other things into custody.

According to Usman, up to 60GB data was uploaded from the user account of the suspect. They retrieved similar content from his gadgets, he said, adding that his family was totally ignorant of his activity.

The suspect told The Express Tribune that he was an electrical engineer working at a sugar mill. He had been using messenger app KIK for two years, he said, adding that in the app, he had joined a group where a link was shared.

Taimur said the link asked him to share a video in return for another, and that was how the circle of sharing got started. The users would call it ‘trading’, he informed.

The man said he was addicted to it and felt strange when he did not watch the videos. He said he did it for addiction only and was not involved in making money through the activity.

The deputy director of FIA’s anti-crime unit told The Express Tribunethat they were investigating whether or not the suspect was making money through the activity. They were also investigating if other persons from Pakistan were also involved in the activity, he added.

“We will investigate the case from different angles, including any involvement of the suspect in production or making of child pornography,” said the official, adding that initial investigations indicated that the suspect was doing it for self-satisfaction.

Assistant Director Administration Hammad Khawaja requested people to keep an eye on their children after providing them access to cyber space.

“Internet is a double-edged weapon… it has benefits and losses at the same time,” he said. “Children should not be allowed to use internet in their bedrooms… but living rooms only.”

This was the third case of child pornography being investigated by the Cyber Crime Cell of the FIA in Lahore.

Last year, the agency arrested a suspect identified as Saadat Amin from Sargodha. He was involved in selling child pornographic content online and had victimised 25 individuals, according to the FIA. The suspect was arrested after the Norwegian Embassy shared information with Pakistani authorities.

In another such case, a suspect was arrested from Attock over involvement in making and uploading videos of minor children on social media.

The FIA also recovered a child from Gujrat who fell victim to the heinous crime. This case is under-trial.

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