Lawyer: American Wants To Fight Extradition From Hong Kong In Internet Child Abuse Case

Thursday, May 3rd 2007, 7:35 am
By: News On 6

HONG KONG (AP) _ An American accused of raping his daughter and posting a video of the attack on the Internet wants to contest his extradition to the United States, a lawyer said Friday.

Kenneth John Freeman, who was captured Tuesday after more than a year on the run, wore a hooded sweatshirt to hide his face as he entered a Hong Kong courthouse for his extradition hearing.

The case was adjounred until July 3 to give the U.S. time to make a formal extradition request, said Wayne Walsh, deputy principal counsul for Hong Kong's international law division. He said Freeman indicated he wanted to context the extradition.

The decision by Freeman's 17-year-old daughter to tell her story on national TV helped connect the case to some of the Internet's most notorious molestation videos. On Wednesday, the girl simply smiled as authorities and family praised her for coming forward and urged others to do the same.

``We want America to know that this is awful. This is an awful thing that goes on in our society each and every day,'' Chris Peale, the girl's stepfather, said at a news conference. ``Kids are being molested, being raped, and I can't tell you enough how important it is for those families to support those children.''

Freeman, a 44-year-old bodybuilder and former volunteer reserve sheriff's deputy, was on the most-wanted lists of the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Freeman has been charged in a Washington state court with three counts of rape of a child and jumping bail, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. He also faces federal charges of producing and distributing child pornography.

Authorities said Freeman fled the U.S. last year. Investigators tracked him down in Suzhou, China, where he is believed to have been working at the local office of a U.S.-based company.

Chinese police arrested him Tuesday night at a land checkpoint in Hong Kong after he arrived there from mainland China, a Hong Kong police spokeswoman said. Speaking on customary condition of anonymity, the spokeswoman added that he resisted arrest, slightly injuring four officers. She refused to say whether he was injured during the arrest.

The girl appeared on the TV show ``America's Most Wanted'' to talk about the case. Tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after the show aired helped the center identify the girl as the victim in a series of child pornography videos, according to the Marshals Service.

Video of the abuse is among the most widely downloaded child pornography videos in recent years, officials said.