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American accused in online child abuse case to appear in Hong-Kong court

The extradition hearing of an American charged with raping his daughter and posting video of that online will take place in Hong-Kong on Friday, police said.

The 13-month global manhunt for Kenneth John Freeman ended with his arrest in Hong Kong after a struggle that reportedly injured four Chinese police officers after he crossed the border from mainland China.

"Whether or not the arrested person will be extradited back to the U.S. and when that will take place would depend very much on the progress of judicial proceedings," Hong Kong police said Thursday.

Dale Kreisher, a spokesman for the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, declined to say if Freeman requested legal assistance from American officials.

"I know they dispatched someone but I don't know whether he chose to meet with them or not," he said. Kreisher said extradition usually takes several months.

The decision by Freeman's 17-year-old daughter to tell her story on national TV helped connect the case to some of the Internet's most notorious molestation videos. On Wednesday, the girl simply smiled as authorities and family praised her for coming forward and urged others to do the same.

"We want America to know that this is awful. This is an awful thing that goes on in our society each and every day," Chris Peale, the girl's stepfather, said at a news conference. "Kids are being molested, being raped, and I can't tell you enough how important it is for those families to support those children."

Freeman, a 44-year-old bodybuilder and computer expert, was on the most-wanted lists of the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Chinese police arrested him Tuesday night at a land checkpoint in Hong Kong after he arrived there from mainland China, a Hong Kong police spokeswoman said. Speaking on customary condition of anonymity, the spokeswoman added that the arrested man resisted, slightly injuring four officers. She refused to say whether he was injured during the arrest.

The girl appeared on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" to talk about the case. Tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after the show aired helped the center identify the girl as the victim in a series of child pornography videos, according to the Marshals Service. Video of the abuse is among the most widely downloaded child pornography videos in recent years, officials said.

Freeman, who was once a volunteer reserve sheriff's deputy, has been charged in Benton County Superior Court with three counts of rape of a child and jumping bail. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Authorities in Turkey, Greece and China tracked Freeman's whereabouts. Investigators trailed him to Suzhou, a city in China, where he is believed to have been working at the local office of a U.S.-based company.

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