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High-profile sex offender faces another arrest after avoiding U.S. extradition

All News 11:33 November 09, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean sex offender, who was indicted in the United States in 2018 for operating one of the world's biggest child sex exploitation sites but avoided extradition to Washington by a court ruling earlier this year, attended a court hearing in Seoul on Monday to be additionally questioned about money laundering allegations.

Son Jong-woo, released from a Seoul prison in July after completing an 18-month prison term on child sex exploitation charges, showed up in his detention warrant hearing at the Seoul Central District Court around 9 a.m., as he faces another arrest on a separate charge of concealing his criminal proceeds.

The court is expected to decide later in the day whether to put the 24-year-old Son under pre-trial detention.

This file photo taken on July 6, 2020, shows South Korean sex offender Son Jong-woo leaving the Seoul Detention Center after serving an 18-month prison term and a Seoul court rejected a U.S. extradition request for him. (Yonhap)

The court hearing came after Son's father filed complaints with the Seoul police in May this year against the operator of the notorious child sexual exploitation site "Welcome to Video" on the darknet from June 2015 to March 2018, alleging that his son was not punished on money laundering charges in his previous indictment.

The father also claimed that his son damaged his mother's reputation by paying for her medical care with criminal proceeds. But the father's complaint was widely seen as intended to open a new legal case, thereby keeping his son in Korea ahead of a court ruling on his son's extradition to the U.S.

U.S. authorities had filed an extradition request for Son after a federal grand jury in D.C. indicted him in August 2018 on nine counts related to his operation of Welcome to Video, which was taken down by law enforcement in March of the same year.

But the Seoul High Court ruled against the U.S. extradition request in July, citing a need for Korean authorities to fully fight against child sexual exploitation by having the main culprit in the country.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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