A 24-year-old Chinese national was arrested at San Francisco International Airport last week and pleaded not guilty Thursday to child pornography charges, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
Minghong Xia, a San Francisco resident, was arrested on April 17 after an investigation that began when the San Francisco police Internet Crimes Against Children unit learned of possible distribution of child pornography via peer-to-peer software at an apartment in the city.
Investigators executed a search warrant at the apartment but found that no one was home and no child pornography was found, according to the district attorney's office.
However, police learned the resident, Xia, was in Seattle for work and was in possession of his digital devices. They later learned he was on his way back to San Francisco and obtained a search warrant for him and his belongings, prosecutors said.
When he landed at SFO, officers detained him and examined his laptop, which was found to have hundreds of images of child pornography, including ones of children under 10 years old, prosecutors said.
Xia is a Chinese national in the U.S. on a work permit that is set to expire in the near future.
He pleaded not guilty Thursday to child pornography possession charges and remains in custody on $100,000 bail, with his potential release on the condition that he not try to obtain a replacement passport or leave California without a judge's permission, prosecutors said.
Xia is set to return to court on May 9.