New Mexico Solar Observatory Evacuation Due To Child Porn Investigation

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The National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, was mysteriously shut down and evacuated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 6, with no explanation as to why.

Now that the FBI’s records have been unsealed, it has been revealed that the shut down was over suspected child pornography inside the observatory, reported Reuters. A janitor working at the facility was suspected of “using the facility’s wireless internet service to send and receive child pornography,” the documents showed.

Following the evacuation, a social media storm ensued, with all sorts of conspiracy theories running rampant. The rumors were only fueled by the site’s proximity to two U.S. military installations as well as the town of Roswell, where a suspected UFO was spotted in 1947.

The only word of explanation prior to the unsealing of the FBI documents came from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which oversees the facility. On Sunday they stated that the “the site had been evacuated due to law enforcement investigation of criminal activity at Sacramento Peak,” according to USA Today.

Despite the theories that sprouted up over the Sunspot observatory, the actually explanation has proved to be far less complicated, but no less sinister.

The FBI records “included a 39-page application for a warrant to search the suspect’s residence.” An agent with the bureau stated in the affidavit that they were “investigating the activities of an individual who was utilizing the wireless internet service of the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, to download and distribute child pornography.”

The suspect was identified as a janitor who had been contracted to clean the facility. The man’s laptop had been used to connect to the observatory’s wireless network. The FBI made the decision to shut the facility down with concerns that he might pose a threat to other employees at the observatory if it was left running during the investigation.

On September 14, FBI agents removed “three cell phones, five laptops, one iPad, an external hard drive, 16 thumb drives, 89 compact flash disks and other material” from the man’s home.

The facility was allowed to reopen on Monday, following 11-days of closure. The person has not been arrested at this stage, and no arrest warrant has been issued, per the FBI.

A spokesman for the FBI field office in Albuquerque, Frank Fisher, has issued a statement saying the case is still under investigation at this stage.