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‘Evidence unclear in Todd extortion’

Inspector Paulette Freill addresses the media during a conference Thursday to announce charges in the Amanda Todd case as Todd’s mother Carol and father Norm, look on. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Inspector Paulette Freill addresses the media during a conference Thursday to announce charges in the Amanda Todd case as Todd’s mother Carol and father Norm, look on.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

The lawyer for a Dutch man facing charges in Canada related to the online sexual extortion of Amanda Todd believes evidence against his client is scant.

Aydin Coban, 35, was charged last week with extortion, Internet luring, criminal harassment, as well as possession and distribution of child pornography.

“This is truly a day we’ve been waiting for,” Todd’s mother Carol said as she fought back tears at a press conference Thursday. “I always knew deep in my heart that what my daughter told me was the truth. Now our RCMP have helped and supported us in finding an answer.”

Coban has been in custody since he was arrested in January at a vacation bungalow in Oisterwijk, a town about 100 kilometres south of Amsterdam.

Canada’s National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre says the investigation involves victims from Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and the Netherlands.

But Coban’s lawyer, Christian van Dijk, believes prosecutors don’t have sufficient evidence to convict his client.

The wireless network – through which Todd was contacted – did not belong to him, said van Dijk, and may have been hacked.

The evidence file for Coban includes only IP addresses.

“It could be anybody who logged in,” he said. “Everyone knows wireless networks are dangerous because it’s very easy to hack each other.”

Coban has been in isolation since his arrest and was shocked to learn about the extent of the accusations, according to van Dijk.

“People don’t understand that he is not convicted. He is just a suspect,” said van Dijk.

Coquitlam RCMP began investigating the Todd case in December 2010, when sexually explicit images of Amanda Todd, 13 at the time, began circulating online.

In September 2012, a month before she took her own life, Todd posted a heart-breaking video to YouTube detailing years of torment she endured as the target of bullies online and at school.

In hand-written notes, the teen described being asked to flash her breasts online and how that one indiscretion spiraled out of control.

Todd – who lived in Port Coquitlam at the time of her death, but previously attended schools in Maple Ridge, where some bullying occurred – wrote that her blackmailer sent the screenshot to her classmates and continued to extort her even when she switched schools.

Her account is strikingly similar to allegations leveled against the Dutch man, who is accused of approaching underage girls via the internet and seducing them into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam.

He is said to have saved images and used them to blackmail the girls, targeting dozens of them in several countries, including the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. The man is also accused of extorting men in a similar way for money.

Of Turkish and Dutch descent, Coban is not married and does not have any children.

Van Dijk describes him as a polite, sophisticated person who had no fixed address.

“When I speak to him, he seems like a very good person,” he added.

“At this moment, we are convinced that we will make it very difficult for the police and prosecution to get him convicted. The evidence is not really clear.”

B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch has asked the federal Department of Justice to request for Coban’s extradition, but it is not known how long that process will take.

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