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Italian arrested in Iceland on 'sextortion' claims

By AFP

February 7, 2024 07:23 PM


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An Italian man suspected of obtaining sexual photos of dozens of underage girls after threatening them online has been arrested in Iceland, Italian police said Wednesday.

Over a period of three years, the 48-year-old suspect contacted female minors on social networks and messaging platforms "to obtain sexually explicit images through threats and blackmail", said Italy's police division charged with fighting cybercrime.

In Italy alone, there were around 50 victims of the suspect, said police, who did not provide their ages.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation warned last month of the growing threat of so-called "sextortion", which involves "an offender coercing a minor to create and send sexually explicit images or videos".

The offender then "threatens to release that compromising material unless the victim produces more", the FBI said.

Europol, the EU's law enforcement arm, recommends that the phenomenon be called the "online sexual coercion and extortion of children".

Tracking the Italian living in Iceland was difficult because he used numerous nicknames and foreign telephone numbers, Italian police said.

His extradition to Italy is pending.

According to the postal police's 2023 annual report, there were 136 cases of "sextortion" last year, similar to the number in 2022.

The crime increasingly targets minors aged between 14 and 17, most of them male, the report said.

The arrest came a day after EU member countries agreed on the bloc's first rules to tackle violence against women, including online harassment.

The law also targets "non-consensual sharing of intimate images", the European Commission's vice president for values and transparency, Vera Jourova, said in a video posted on X.


AFP


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