Arrest in Netherlands over tragic cyberbullying case of Canadian teenager Amanda Todd
Police will apply for extradition of man said to be linked to suicide of YouTube video girl
A man has been arrested in the Netherlands in the case of a Canadian teenager who was blackmailed into exposing herself in front of a webcam and later committed suicide.
Amanda Todd, 15, told her story using handwritten signs on a YouTube video watched by millions around the world.
A picture of her exposing her breasts ended up on a Facebook page made by the stranger, to which her friends were added.
Amanda, of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, was repeatedly bullied, despite changing schools, before finally killing herself weeks after posting the video.
It has now 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.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Paulette Freill said the 35-year-old man was charged with extortion, criminal harassment and possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution.
Police 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 said they would seek extradition. Lawyer Christian van Dijk confirmed that one of the charges against his client involved a 15-year-old girl from British Columbia.
The suspect, who has dual Dutch and Turkish nationality, has been in detention since he was arrested in January in a holiday home in the town of Oisterwijk. He lived alone and has no wife or children.
Prosecutors first publicised his case after a preliminary hearing on Wednesday at which his detention was extended for three months.
"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 in a statement.
"He is suspected of subsequently pressurising them to participate in making new material."
The suspect is also thought to have blackmailed adult men in a similar way, by convincing them that he was an underage boy. He got them to perform sexual acts on camera and then threatened to hand the images to the police.
Lawyer Van Dijk said he did not believe prosecutors has sufficient evidence to convict his client, and said that even if there was evidence of unlawful activity on his computer, it may 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.
Dutch prosecutors said they were co-operating with other national authorities, including the British.
Van Dijk said US and Norwegian authorities were also involved in the case. He said no country had sought to have his client extradited and so far he hasn't entered any plea. "He's exercising his right to remain silent," Van Djik said.