LONDON Interpol said on Monday it was hopeful of identifying a serial pedophile after posting his picture on the Internet in an unprecedented public appeal that drew hundreds of responses from around the world.
"We have already ... hundreds of responses from the public globally as to who this person could be," Kristin Kvigne, assistant director of Interpol's Trafficking in Human Beings Unit, told BBC World television.
"We feel that with the press, the media coverage that this case has been given, we have a very good chance of finding out who he is."
The unidentified man appears in around 200 photographs discovered by police on the Internet, in which he was shown abusing 12 young boys. Investigators believe they were taken in Vietnam and Cambodia, possibly in 2002 and 2003.
The pictures had been digitally altered to hide the man's face behind a swirly pattern. But computer experts at Germany's BKA police agency, which discovered them, were able through forensic work to reproduce recognizable images.
The unscrambled pictures were posted on Interpol's Web site www.interpol.int on Monday, prompting what one official described as an "overwhelming" response.
While it was too early to speak of a breakthrough, she said the world police organization would coordinate with the countries concerned to follow up all new leads.
Interpol said it was making the unique public appeal because, despite extensive efforts through its network of 186 states, the man remained unknown.
"For years, images of this man sexually abusing children have been circulating on the Internet," Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said.
"We have tried all other means to identify and to bring him to justice, but we are now convinced that without the public's help this sexual predator could continue to rape and sexually abuse young children whose ages appear to range from six to early teens."
Interpol runs a huge database of images of child sex abuse and uses sophisticated software to find connections between them, even analyzing tiny details like wallpaper and fabric patterns in apparently anonymous indoor settings.
Now containing more than 520,000 images submitted by 36 member states, the database has helped police identify and rescue nearly 600 victims from 31 countries to date.