After a year of silence, the Dutch man charged with tormenting B.C. teen Amanda Todd has written a public declaration of innocence.
In a four-page letter addressed to The Globe and Mail and a Dutch television station, Aydin Coban, who is facing multiple charges in a Dutch court for allegedly harassing and blackmailing people online, claims he is the victim of bad press and a shoddy investigation.
"I'm innocent," states the hand-written message (PDF), penned from a Nieuwegein prison cell, where he says he is teaching guitar, reading books and meeting "diverse people with colourful life stories.
"I'm not the so called tormentor of Miss Amanda Todd or anyone else for that matter."
Police arrested Mr. Coban in January of 2014 after monitoring Internet activity at his rented southern Netherlands bungalow for several months. When detectives examined his digital files, they allegedly found evidence he had blackmailed underage girls into appearing nude by webcam.
Coquitlam RCMP allege one of those victims was Ms. Todd, who bared her breasts while using a video chat site in 2010. Another chatroom user saved the image and eventually spread the picture through social media to Ms. Todd's classmates. The humiliation precipitated Ms. Todd's decline and eventual suicide in 2012 at age 15.
For investigators tracking Ms. Todd's online tormentor, the trail went cold until 2013, when a probe conducted by Facebook's internal security team pointed to a digital address associated with Mr. Coban. With the Facebook evidence in hand, Dutch police began monitoring Mr. Coban's online movements through remotely installed software, according to Christian van Dijk, Mr. Coban's lawyer.
The Dutch prosecutor's office publicly announced charges for indecent assault and producing and spreading child pornography in April of 2014, though it refused to confirm any connection to Ms. Todd's case.
Coquitlam RCMP followed by announcing five charges under Canadian law against Mr. Coban, directly accusing him of harassing Ms. Todd.
An RCMP spokesman said on Wednesday the force stands by the charges – which include extortion, Internet luring, criminal harassment and possession of child pornography – and continues to support Crown prosecutors with the court case, but declined further comment.
Requests for comment from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch went unanswered.
In his letter, Mr. Coban accuses the international media of "orchestrating a hate campaign" against him and branding him as "a monster."
He then turns his attention to the Dutch case against him, much of which is contained in evidence binders that won't become public until his case goes to full trial – likely this summer, according to his lawyer.
Much of that evidence rests on the report prepared by Facebook, a document Mr. Coban calls "poorly founded and incomplete." The report identifies him as using a computer router in Oisterwijk, Netherlands, that has been traced as the source of threatening messages to Ms. Todd. Mr. Coban insists in the letter that he didn't live anywhere near Oisterwijk at the time Ms. Todd was being harassed.
In his final attempt to unravel the government's case, he accuses investigators of using a secretive and possibly illegal software to track his online movements.
"It was a RAT [remote access technology] that recorded some things but nothing shocking, just some conversations," explained his lawyer, Mr. van Dijk. "It doesn't mean that these conversations were made by my client. It is possible and even likely that someone spoofed his address and used his computer like a clone."
Mr. van Dijk says he advised his client against writing a letter to the media. "I told him I wasn't sure it was wise," he said. "But he just wanted to spread his word." Mr. Coban's next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 13 in Amsterdam.