United States law enforcement authorities were denied an extradition request for a man convicted of running a dark web child pornography site based in South Korea.
Son Jong-woo is the site operator of "Welcome to Video," which sells explicit child pornographic video content in exchange for digital cash popularly known as bitcoin cryptocurrency. This allowed his operation to span the global market selling close to 250,000 videos of various depictions of child sexual abuse. His content also included disturbing footage of extremely young children as young as 6 months old being violated and raped. Authorities found eight terabytes of explicit materials in his possession and is considered to be one of the largest child pornography collections on record.
Son Jong-woo was arrested for violating South Korea's child protection and information laws and served a mere 18-month sentence that ended in April . After his release, Son was taken back into the custody of South Korean authorities due to existing warrants and US federal charges in Washington.
The man was indicted in August of 2018, covering nine counts for his porn site operations and is again up for release since the request for extradition was denied.
According to the Seoul High Court, this refusal for extradition to the United States is to prevent current investigations from spiralling down the hole and should not be taken as acquittal from his offences. They believe that keeping him in the country can be of great help to crack down on the growing cases of child exploitation in South Korea. In fact, they want Son to cooperate and own up to whatever proper punishment he deserves. As of current time, Reuters is still unable to get hold of any further information from Son's lawyer.
The move to extradite comes due to contrasting lines between 15-year sentences meted out on convictions in the United States compared to Son's measly 18-month sentence that seemed too lenient in comparison to the extent and gravity of his operations. South Korea faces pressure from the US to lay down stricter laws and hard bitten penalties on child pornography convictions.
As it is, officials said they were able to arrest 338 people from different countries that were linked to Son's massive network mainly in South Korea, Britain, Brazil, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Spain and Australia.