Covert Dutch police broke into a rural bungalow and installed controversial computer tracking software as part of a sophisticated investigation into the man accused of tormenting B.C. teen Amanda Todd, who died by suicide in 2012.
The detail emerged in a 14-minute segment devoted to the Todd investigation that aired on a Dutch nightly news program, Nieuwsuur, on Wednesday, one day before the accused, Aydin Coban, is scheduled to appear before an Amsterdam court for nine cases of online bullying and blackmail.
While the tracking software – called a keystroke logger – is common among investigative arsenals in other countries, its use is rare and contentious in the Netherlands. "To my knowledge, this is the first time that the Dutch police admit to installing a key-logger on the computer of a suspect," said Dutch cybersecurity expert Bart Jacobs on the program.
A keystroke logger secretly records every keystroke on a computer and would have allowed investigators to track Mr. Coban's computer activity in minute detail. While Mr. Jacobs questioned whether its use is legal under Dutch law, a spokesman from that country's Justice Ministry said investigators obtained court approval before proceeding with the installation.
The Canadian Department of Justice is working on extradition proceedings against Mr. Coban, but has declined to comment about the case, citing the confidential nature of state-to-state communications.
It's no secret the RCMP are eager to have Mr. Coban face a Canadian court. Shortly after the Dutch prosecutor's office publicized his arrest in April, Coquitlam RCMP announced five charges against Mr. Coban related to its 31/2 year Todd investigation: extortion, importing or distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography, communicated via computer to lure a child under 18 and criminal harassment.
Evidence binders generated by Dutch police burst with records of online chats between Ms. Todd and one of Mr. Coban's alleged Facebook aliases, Tyler Boo.
One of those documents is alleged to show that Tyler Boo threatened to distribute images of Ms. Todd unless she provided "shows" onscreen.
Shortly before she took her life in 2012, Ms. Todd recounted the extortion story in a poignant YouTube video. One semi-nude image of her had been disseminated to friends and family. The embarrassment and harassment that followed proved unbearable. That video now has over 30 million views and Ms. Todd's demise has become a cautionary tale with international traction.
While Ms. Todd is without doubt the most prominent and tragic of Mr. Coban's alleged victims, Dutch authorities say that dozens of girls and men in the Netherlands, Norway, Britain, the United States and Canada suffered his online extortion schemes.
The blackmail attempts all followed a similar pattern. Mr. Coban would contact underage girls online and seduce them into undressing via webcam, according to the Dutch National Prosecutor's Office. He would then threaten to disseminate the recordings unless they provided repeat performances.
With male victims , Mr. Coban allegedly posed as a young boy online and coerced men into performing sexual acts via webcam. "The suspect is thought to have blackmailed the men by threatening to hand the images over to the police," according to the prosecutor's office.
With a report from Colin Brace in Amsterdam