A 35-year-old Dutch man has been arrested in connection with the suicide of a Canadian teenage girl that sparked a worldwide debate on cyberbullying and online harassment, prosecutors said on Friday.
Canada will begin extradition proceedings “so that the man may face the court linked with the Amanda Todd case,” prosecutor’s office spokesman Paul van der Zanden told AFP.
The suspect was arrested in January in the southern town of Tilburg and is suspected of having forced dozens of young women as far afield as the United States, Britain and Netherlands of performing sex acts in front of their webcams.
Canadian authorities linked the man to the Todd case as early as October 2012, just after the girl’s suicide, van der Zanden said.
Prosecutors allege that the suspect, identified as Aydin C. by Dutch media, blackmailed girls into performing lewd acts, threatening them with the public revelation of earlier acts if they failed to deliver.
According to the suspect’s lawyer, quoted by a Dutch news agency, the man has requested a trial in the Netherlands and will fight his extradition.
Todd’s suicide, after being tormented by an anonymous cyberbully, sparked a national debate in Canada and worldwide on what is appropriate online behaviour, with calls for criminalising bullying.
In a YouTube video watched by millions worldwide, Todd, 15, said she suffered from anxiety, “major depression” and panic attacks after a photo of her breasts, flashed in an online video chat with a stranger, was distributed in her community in Canada’s westernmost British Columbia province.
She said she withdrew and turned to drugs and alcohol, and “cried every night.”
In the video Todd laments a lack of friends due to the controversy, a schoolyard beating over a boy and changing schools several times to escape blackmail. “I have nobody. I need someone,” she said
After several failed suicide attempts and posting the YouTube video describing her sadness, Todd finally killed herself in October 2012.