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Defense Fund to Oppose Canadian Manga Child Porn Case

posted on by Egan Loo
U.S. man charged with child pornography for bringing manga into Canada

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) announced on Friday that it will support the defense of an American man who is on child pornography charges for bringing manga on his computer into Canada. The man, whose name is being withheld at the request of his legal counsel, is a computer programmer in his 20s.

The CBLDF reported that the man was flying into Canada to visit his friend when Canadian customs searched his belongings. A customs officer found images on the man's laptop computer and characterized them as child pornography. The CBLDF emphasizes that the images "are all comics in the manga style" and not photographic material.

The man was charged with both possessing and importing child pornography. Canadian law dictates a minimum prison sentence of one year (and a maximum of 10 years) for an indictment and conviction on a child pornography importing charge. A summary conviction without indictment or trial would carry a sentence of 90 days to 18 months.

An indictment and conviction on possession of child pornography would carry a sentence of 45 days to five years, while a summary conviction on the same charge would carry a sentence of 14 days to 18 months.

The CBLDF will contribute financially to the man's defense (estimated to cost C$150,000 or about US$152,000) and provide legal assistance. A similar Canadian organization called Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund is also contributing.

In the CBLDF's press release, Executive Director Charles Brownstein said that the case "underscores the dangers facing everyone traveling with comics, and it can establish important precedents regarding travelers rights. It also relates to the increasingly urgent issue of authorities prosecuting art as child pornography."

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) posted the policies that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) uses for searching travelers' belongings last year. The agency's presentation described anime as child pornography "only if characters are explicitly depicted as children involved in sex acts e.g. lack of secondary sexual characteristics, breast development, pubic hair," although this distinction is not in the Canadian laws.

Update: More information on customs' policies added.

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