An Obscene Web Site?

Iraq-corpse Web site operator held for obscenity

The American operator of a Web site which posted grisly pictures of people killed in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts was arrested on obscenity charges unrelated to the war photos, police officials in Florida said.

The Polk County sheriff's office said Christopher Michael Wilson was arrested on Friday and faces one count of wholesale distribution of obscene material and 300 misdemeanor charges relating to the Web site and pornographic photos.

The charges were unrelated to the photos of corpses from Iraq and Afghanistan, which the site states were provided by U.S. troops in exchange for free access to pornographic material.

Several of the graphic pictures showed men wearing what looked like U.S. military uniforms, standing over charred corpses, mutilated bodies and severed body parts.

Many were accompanied by captions making light of the corpses. One photo of a charred body was dubbed "Cooked Iraqi."

The Pentagon has said it found no evidence any of the photos were posted by soldiers.

Wilson was being held in jail under a $151,000 bond, the Polk County sheriff's office said.

"In my 33 years of law enforcement experience, this is one of the most horrific examples of filthy, obscene materials we have ever seized," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. He did not elaborate.

Judd said the investigation was continuing and any pertinent information would be shared with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division.

Judd told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper his investigation was not spurred by federal authorities.

Wilson lives in Lakeland, Florida, but hosts the site out of Amsterdam, Netherlands, according to an article last month in the Online Journalism Review of the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California.

The controversy sparked by the photographs of war dead followed the publication a year and a half ago of photos showing U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail. That scandal prompted international condemnation of the United States.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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