A 44-year-old Russian man is being held in Spokane County Jail after federal authorities found child pornography on his computer and he booked a flight out of the country, according to court documents.
Vladimir Popov faces a single count of possessing child pornography. Rodney Weekes, a special agent with the Homeland Security Department, traced multiple downloads beginning in October of child pornography to an apartment Popov rented with his family on Spokane’s South Hill, according to court records.
Authorities searched Popov’s apartment just after 6 a.m. on March 1 and discovered a laptop with multiple files believed to be child pornography, Weekes wrote in an affidavit supporting Popov’s arrest.
Popov at first denied downloading pornography, then when confronted with files found on his computer said he had downloaded the content. Popov told police, through a Russian interpreter, he didn’t believe what he had done was illegal, according to court records. Other members of Popov’s family denied downloading pornography. Popov lived with his son, daughter and infant grandson. Popov denied having any sexual relationship with a minor and said he began downloading the content eight months ago.
Weekes was alerted by email from the Treasury Department three days later that Popov had booked a flight March 5 from Spokane to Denver, and that his ticket included trips on to Frankfurt, Germany, and finally Kyrgyzstan, on the western Chinese border. Weekes alerted Transportation Security Agents at Spokane International Airport, and Popov was arrested March 6, according to court records.
Popov faces a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years if found guilty. His attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Rodgers ordered Popov held without bail during a hearing Thursday in Spokane.