A MAN has been arrested in the Netherlands in connection with the case of a teenage Canadian girl who took her own life after being blackmailed to expose herself in front of a webcam.
Amanda Todd, 15, killed herself after detailing her harassment on a YouTube video that was watched by millions around the world.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police yesterday confirmed a suspect had been arrested in the Netherlands and charged with extortion, luring and criminal harassment and possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution.
Police did not release the name of the 35-year-old man and declined to release specifics of the case, but said there were other victims in Canada and internationally.
Dutch prosecutors said the man was suspected of blackmailing girls in the US, Britain and the Netherlands. Canadian police intend to extradite the suspect to face trial.
Amanda brought the problem of cyberbullying to mainstream attention after she posted a video on YouTube in which she told her story with handwritten signs, describing how she was lured by a stranger to expose her breasts on a webcam.
A picture ended up on a Facebook page made by the stranger, to which her friends were added.
She was repeatedly bullied, despite changing schools, before finally killing herself weeks after posting the video. It has been viewed more than 17 million times.
“This is truly a day we have been waiting for,” said Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother. She wiped away tears as she thanked police.
Dutch prosecutors said they had filed indecent assault and child pornography charges against the man. Lawyer Christian Van Dijk earlier confirmed that one of the charges against his client involved a 15-year-old girl from British Columbia, but did not name Amanda.
The suspect, who has dual Dutch and Turkish nationality, has been in detention since he was arrested in January in a house in the town of Oisterwijk. He has no wife or children.
“The suspicions against the man are that he approached underage girls via the internet and then seduced them into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam,” prosecutors said.
They added that the suspect was also thought to have blackmailed adult men by convincing them he was an underage boy, persuading them to perform sexual acts on camera, and then threatening to turn the images over to police.
Mr Van Dijk said he did not believe prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict his client, and that even if there was evidence of unlawful activity on his computer, it might have been hacked.
“Prosecutors seem to think they have a big fish here, but if I see the evidence, it’s not much,” he said. “Lots of references to IP [internet protocol] addresses and such.”
Dutch prosecutors said they were co-operating with other national authorities, including police in Britain.