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Search warrant links evacuation at solar observatory to child porn investigation

20 Sep 2018, 06:08 UTC
Search warrant links evacuation at solar observatory to child porn investigation
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The Richard B. Dunn Solar Telescope is the centerpiece of the Sunspot Solar Observatory on Sacramento Peak in New Mexico. (National Science Foundation Photo)
A federal search warrant indicates that the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico and surrounding homes were evacuated this month not because of alien visitation, but because of a child pornography investigation.
The warrant and an accompanying affidavit lays out the details of an FBI investigation that came to focus on a janitor who worked at the observatory atop Sacramento Peak, which serves as America’s national center for ground-based solar physics.
During a search through a child protection database in July, federal agents reportedly identified child porn that was downloaded to IP addresses on the observatory’s wireless network. An affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Lisa Kite Hill said the facility’s chief observer discovered a laptop that appeared to contain pornography. The time frame for the downloads were found to match times when the janitor was on the premises, Hill’s affidavit said.
After the laptop was seized, the janitor began making comments to the effect that “security was so lax” at the facility, according to the affidavit.
“I should be able to throw a laptop down ...

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