Foreign National Pleads Guilty to Downloading Child Pornography from the Dark Web in Exchange for Cryptocurrency

A Saudi Arabian national living in Arlington, Virginia pleaded guilty today to downloading child pornography through the dark web. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia, and Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)’s Washington, D.C. made the announcement. 

Ammar Atef Alahdali, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.  Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 18.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, Alahdali paid cryptocurrency to become a member of a website dedicated to the advertisement and distribution of child pornography.  This website operated over the dark web—i.e., it could only be accessed through special software that masks the user’s real internet protocol address.  In 2017, he used this website to download more than 20 videos depicting the sexual abuse of children, including at least one video depicting sadistic sexual conduct.

HSI investigated the case.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Kyle P. Reynolds and William G. Clayman of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Fong of the Eastern District of Virginia.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Author: October 2, 2018