Tags: observatory | closure | child porn

New Mexico Solar Observatory Closed by Child Porn Probe

New Mexico Solar Observatory Closed by Child Porn Probe
The Sunspot Astronomy and Visitor Center near Cloudcroft, New Mexico. (Sandra Foyt/Dreamstime.com)

 

By    |   Thursday, 20 September 2018 08:24 AM

A New Mexico solar observatory’s mysterious shutdown earlier this month was caused by a child pornography probe, according to the FBI, USA Today reported.

FBI agents shut down the Sunspot Observatory on Sept. 6 but refused to release further details, drawing national attention to the incident.

The mystery was explained in newly unsealed Federal Bureau of Investigation documents, which noted the closure came after authorities seized a laptop allegedly used by the janitor to access child pornography.

The FBI launched investigations after the facility’s chief observer discovered a running laptop in an empty office with child porn on it several months ago, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The unidentified chief observer suspected the janitor had been using the laptop as he was the only person with “unlimited access” to the building and could enter the facility at the times that the child porn had been accessed.

After obtaining a search warrant, agents seized the laptop.

When the janitor came into work following the confiscation, he reportedly grew increasingly “frantic” and told the chief observer a serial killer in the area could “enter the facility and execute someone.”

As a result, the observatory was shut down and evacuated.

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy released a vague statement Sunday explaining that it had “made the decision to temporarily vacate the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico as a precautionary measure while addressing a security issue.”

The association noted that, while cooperating in an on-going law enforcement investigation, staff became concerned that “a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents.”

As of Thursday, no suspect had been formally arrested or charged, USA Today said.

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A New Mexico solar observatory’s mysterious shutdown earlier this month was caused by a child pornography probe, according to the FBI.
observatory, closure, child porn
286
2018-24-20
Thursday, 20 September 2018 08:24 AM
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