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Austria smashes child porn ring

Austrian police say they have broken an internet child porn ring that spanned 170 countries and involved nearly 1,000 people, including teachers and doctors.

Police say they have charged nearly 190 men in Austria and confiscated 14,000 computers, drives and disks.

The images showed naked children aged nine to 12 from the US and Paraguay.

It is one of the biggest crackdowns on indecent images of children in Austria, and was assisted by police in Croatia, where the site was registered.

Police identified a total of 935 suspects as part of an international investigation, code-named Operation Sledgehammer.

So far, 189 Austrians have been charged with downloading and dealing in child pornography and another 97 are under investigation, the police said.

A spokesman said 624 people had been cleared after it was shown they had looked at the site - which is legal in Austria - but not stored or passed on images to others.

Civil servants, politicians and a lawyer were also among the suspects, he said.

In raids of the suspects' houses, police said they had also found other illicit material, drugs and illegal weapons.

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