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WhatsApp to help Australian police in search for missing Belgian teenager

The company behind the messaging service WhatsApp has reacted to a call for help by the father and the cousin of Théo Hayez (18), who has been missing in Australia since the end of last month. A spokesperson for WhatsApp has told the Australian press agency APP that it is assisting the police with their investigation. Earlier on Monday Théo Hayez’s father had called on WhatsApp to help. 

On Sunday Théo’s cousin Lisa asked for WhatsApp’s cooperation by asking it to give detectives access to the final messages sent via his WhatsApp account. 

Théo Hayez was last seen on 31 May in a night club in Byron Bay in the Australian state of New South Wales. CCTV images show that he was using his smartphone.

The police urgently what to know what he was doing and who (if anyone) he was messaging.  However, up until now they have not had access to his WhatsApp account.  

In a joint press conference held on Monday morning (Australian time) Théo Hayez’s father Laurent Hayez called on WhatsApp to give the police access to his son’s WhatsApp Account (see video below)

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WhatsApp has since heeded Mr Hayez’s call

In statement WhatsApp said "Out heart goes out to Théo Hayez and his family. We understand the importance of the work being done by the police and are helping them in accordance with the law and our conditions of service.

WhatsApp is able to gain access to certain information concerning its users such as IP-addresses and other basic information. However, it is not able to access the content of any messages sent. 

Murder detectives drafted in

Meanwhile, murder detectives have travelled to Byron Bay (where Théo Hayez disappeared) from Sydney to help with the investigation. Detectives have also released new footage of Théo shopping at an off-licence on the night of his disappearance (see below). 

AP Images