A UK man last week pleaded guilty to 10 counts of possessing illegal manga and anime, a first since manga was added to the country’s child pornography laws in 2010. Robul Hoque of South Bank, Middlesbrough was sentenced to nine months in prison, but the sentence was suspended as long as he does not break the law in the next two years.
Hoque was previously convicted in 2008 of making “indecent pseudo-photographs” of fictional children using a computer. He was sentenced to community service and sex offender treatment in that case. The current charges stem from a 2012 police raid of his home and computer, during which “officers found 288 still and 99 moving images, but none were of real people.” Hoque’s attorney Richard Bennett warned other anime and manga fans in the UK to be wary in light of the arrest and sentencing, saying that “if they are less than careful, who may find themselves in that position too.”
In handing down the sentence, Judge Toney Briggs said the images seized from Hoque’s computer were “clearly all…designed to make people think they are of children,” adding that “this is material that clearly society and the public can well do without.” Although Hoque did not victimize any real children, Briggs claimed that “the more it’s portrayed, the more the ill-disposed may think it’s acceptable.”
We will have a more in-depth analysis of this case coming up later this week, but for now concerned manga and anime fans in the UK might want to consult our general guidelines on manga and free speech.
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.