ASUNCION, Paraguay – A man known as "Superpapa" who says he took advantage of a quirk in German laws to adopt more than 300 children worldwide has been arrested on suspicion of violating laws on child rearing in Paraguay, authorities said Tuesday.
Jurgen Ernst Hass, a German citizen whose claims were widely published in the European media, was picked up Monday at a hotel in the city of Caaguazu and taken to a jail in the capital of Asuncion, about 140 miles east, according to a police statement.
Police said Hass, 56, was turned over to the courts for investigation of reported attempts to adopt dozens of Paraguayan children and would be called for initial questioning in coming days.
Hass, dubbed "Superpapa" by the local press, drew attention with public boasts of numerous adoptions around the world.
Police said Hass acknowledged taking steps to adopt some 30 Paraguayan children with the intent of taking them to Germany to collect a government subsidy of $260 a month for each under Germany's child protection laws.
According to the police statement, Hass said he adopted more than 370 children of different ages in countries worldwide, including Russia, Romania, India and Pakistan. Authorities said no children went to Germany from this South American country as a result of adoption attempts.
Judge Oscar Delgado's court office said the judge had ordered Hass to appear before his court next week for questioning. Authorities said he was being held by police at a financial crimes investigations unit, while awaiting transfer to a prison on the outskirts of Asuncion.
Enrique Chena, a defense lawyer for Hass, told local reporters Tuesday that he had begun steps to avert any possible extradition attempt by Germany. The case has drawn attention both in Paraguay and in Europe after recent reports on Hass.
Paraguayan law bars adoption en masse of children, but court officials had no immediate comment after Hass' arrest.
Hass insisted in recent European media reports — and in new radio interviews Tuesday — that any adopted children are entitled to German citizenship and a subsidy by the state under German law. He also was quoted as saying such adoptions provide a way for poor children to gain opportunities in Europe that they might not otherwise get.
"These poor children will have the opportunity to eat, to go to school, to go to university and to obtain better jobs" in Europe, he told a local radio station Tuesday.
He also cited an article in German civil code setting aside a subsidy for adopted children and called adoption "an act of charity."