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12 arrested for naming rape victim in tweets

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A dozen Twitter users have been arrested for allegedly naming the rape victim of a professional soccer player in their tweets.

Sheffield United player Ched Evans was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of rape last month. Following his incarceration, police warned that a number of tweeters faced arrest for allegedly revealing the 19-year-old victim’s identity. So far, the investigation has led to 12 arrests, with more likely on the way.

Five men and four women, all from north Wales, were arrested Tuesday, North Wales Police said. They were arrested either on suspicion of malicious communication, under Section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, or were suspected of both offences.

Tuesday’s arrests follow the detainment of three men in South Yorkshire last week. They were later released on bail.

Victims of rape and sexual assault have the legal right to anonymity for life under U.K. law. Naming such victims in a publication or program is a criminal offence which carries a £5,000 ($8,000) fine.

"We continue to be proactive in this investigation and anticipate that further arrests will be made in the near future," Detective Sergeant Bob Halford, of North Wales police, said in a statement.

There’s no telling just how many tweeters are going to be placed in handcuffs. The victim’s name, however, trended on Twitter after Evans’s sentence was announced. So we’re likely to see quite a few more arrests in the near future.

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