Outrage grows over book published by alleged Amanda Todd tormentor
The existence of a book written by the man accused of cyberbullying a Port Coquitlam teen who later committed suicide has prompted harsh reaction from the girl’s family and B.C.’s top cop.
Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth told CTV News he would prosecute anyone caught helping Aydin Coban profit from the sale of a 376-page book, as Coban has already been convicted of tormenting dozens of other young girls and gay men from the Netherlands.
“The idea that someone would be profiting from a book like this is reprehensible. There are laws that don’t allow people to profit from their crimes. I would expect that any effort to market this book would be met with the full force of law,” said Farnworth, who is also the MLA for Port Coquitlam.
Coban is awaiting extradition to Canada to face charges relating to the case of Amanda Todd, who died at the age of 15 after producing a harrowing video using simple handwritten notes to describe how she was hounded for years by a mysterious online tormentor.
“My photos got sent to everyone,” she wrote, explaining that even as she switched schools, the harassment seemed to follow her through Facebook. “I can never get that photo back. It’s out there forever… I have nobody. I need someone.”
In his book, Coban proclaims his innocence, calls police officers “charlatans” and says the case against him is just a “media circus and character assassination.” He blames the crimes on an associate in the Netherlands.
“I will never accept (the verdict). I am innocent. I have nothing to confess,” he writes.
Todd’s mother, Carol Todd, said she felt she had to read the book to hear from the man accused in her daughter’s death. But she says she doesn’t recommend it to anyone else.
“Aydin Coban is trying to manipulate the system. He’s trying to get others to believe his side of the story,” she said.
Dutch media reports say Coban smuggled the book out of prison in an elaborate scheme that involved giving another inmate four sealed envelopes with 661 double-sided pages and offered him 1,000 euros to pass it to an intermediary.
A Toronto retailer, Kobo, has stopped selling the book after inquiries by CTV News – a consequence, the company says, of syndication agreements that republish books around the world automatically even though no human has read them.
The book was self-published through Pumbo, a platform in the Netherlands, and distributed by Central Boekhuis, said Rene d’Entremont, a spokesperson for Rakuten Kobo.
“It was added to our store through an automated feed, and while we monitor for illegal content, a title that doesn’t breach our terms of service would not be flagged,” she wrote in an e-mail.
It’s not clear how much money the book has made so far.
Blaming a computer is no excuse, said Farnworth.
“I don’t think saying, ‘It’s just a computer program’ is a defence. At the end of the day, there are laws that exist not just in B.C. and you need to make sure you’re following them,” he said.
Farnworth pointed to laws in B.C., Ontario and the Netherlands that prohibit criminals from profiting from their crimes.
The B.C. law was enacted after convicted serial killer Robert Pickton smuggled a book out of prison.
Coban’s book remains available in Dutch through several outlets.
Carol Todd said it has been difficult to read and that she wishes the book would “disappear.”
“If he is making a profit on this book by sharing his perceptions and his so-called story, that’s not right,” she said.
“We’re talking about exploitation. No one needs to read this. It should vanish, but we know it’s hard to take things down from the internet,” she said.