A suspected Canadian pedophile who is the target of a global manhunt was arrested today in northeast Thailand, police said.
Christopher Paul Neil, 32, was captured a day after a Thai court issued a warrant for his arrest, in a search launched after police had successfully unswirled a digitally obscured photograph he had posted on the Internet.
He is accused by Interpol of sexually assaulting 12 boys and posting 200 pictures of the crimes on the Internet.
"He was arrested Friday by tourist police in northeastern Thailand," a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.
"Bingo! We've got him," police Maj. Gen. Wimol Powintara told The Associated Press.
Thai authorities had issued an arrest warrant yesterday for the suspect from Maple Ridge, B.C., after a Thai teen claimed he was sexually abused by him five years ago.
Authorities believe Mr. Neil is the man whose digitally blurred image appeared in about 200 Internet photos that showed him sexually abusing Vietnamese and Cambodian boys as young as six.
Staff Sergeant Rick Greenwood of the National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre said the RCMP is conducting interviews in parts of the country where Mr. Neil lived and worked before he started teaching in Asia, including the Greenwood Air Cadet Summer Training Centre in Nova Scotia, where he worked as a chaplain and counsellor.
Canadian Forces officials at the centre have said they received no complaints from the air cadets or their parents during the time Mr. Neil worked there. Interpol stepped up its search for the suspect yesterday by issuing a so-called Red Notice, an international request for the suspect's arrest, while police in Canada said they were gathering evidence to determine if charges could be laid against the suspect here.
Under Canada's Criminal Code, there are provisions tocharge someone for certain offences committed abroad, and he said that's what police are looking at.
Canada has an extradition treaty with Thailand, which could allow Mr. Neil to be tried here. If charges against Mr. Neil are laid in Canada, it would be up to the attorney-general of British Columbia, Mr. Neil's home province, to request extradition or allow him to be tried in Thailand.
International extradition treaties were first introduced in the late nineties to insure that those committing crimes in countries that did not have the ability to prosecute them could still face charges in their own countries.
Canada has sex tourism laws allowing prosecution for crimes committed abroad.
Experts in human trafficking say Southeast Asia remains popular with sexual predators because of poverty and corrupt law enforcement in some countries.