U.S. National Killed in Bulgarian Pornography Case

Jeff Berg
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of an American man who allegedly filmed sex videos of underage Bulgarian youth and posted it on the Internet.

Aged 17 to 22, the three men stand accused of killing 44-year-old Daniel Weather, a U.S. national who had a temporary residential permit and lived with his girlfriend in Sofia, and allegedly filmed the men and posted the video on a website.

The three men allegedly beat Weather to death with batons, stones and metal rods and then dumped him into a well near the Yana railway station, where his body was discovered on Saturday. According to police, they were upset that Weather had posted BDSM-themed videos of them on the Internet and then refused to remove them.

According to government officials, Weather was under investigation for his alleged connection to a group that produced videos of underage Bulgarian children.

Weather allegedly hired children away from poor, rural families and paid them between 30 and 50 leve per scene, roughly $22.33 to $33.88, to perform in bondage- and sadomasochism-themed films, which were then posted on an Internet site and sold on CD to purchasers around the world, said Boyko Borisov, chief secretary general for the interior ministry.

According to Borisov, Weather himself appeared in the films, performing with four Bulgarian teenage schoolgirls in at least one of the movies, and was being watched as part of a joint investigation by the Bulgarian interior ministry and the FBI.

The individuals involved in production and distribution of the films, including their purchasers and financers, who live in the United States are currently being tracked down by the FBI, Borisov said.

Bulgaria has become a haven for international content producers recently, with a variety of Internet sites and production companies springing up in the country because of its cheap workforce, regardless of the country’s laws against hiring anyone to produce adult material. Roughly 13 percent of the population currently lives below the poverty line, and an equal amount of the population is currently unemployed. The average salary is about $200 per month.

The country also has the dubious distinction of being one of the largest European transshipment points for both Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine.

Bulgarian Social Minister Hristina Hristova said at a press conference that the high amount of pedophile-related scandals currently occurring in Bulgaria may harm the country’s international image and cause problems for its impending advancement to a member of the European Union.

Earlier this week, German television station ARD TV aired a documentary featuring interviews with Bulgarian children “invited by German uncles” for longer stays in the country, and suggested that the German embassy in Bulgaria was issuing visas to underage children.