US & Canada

'Canada creep' suspect charged - police thank internet sleuths

Woman walking downtown Image copyright AFP

A 42-year-old Canadian man has been charged with secretly photographing hundreds of women and posting their images on Twitter.

The photos were mostly taken in Calgary, Alberta, and pictured women's clothed breasts, buttocks or genitals.

Twitter has since suspended the account, CanadaCreep, which amassed 17,000 followers in just under a year.

Calgary police say the man was identified thanks to an "overwhelming" response from the public online.

So far, police have laid voyeurism-related charges for three separate incidents, but more charges may follow. After arresting the suspect, police searched his residence and seized a laptop, storage devices and other electronics.

Investigators are now examining multiple terabytes of data, including hundreds of thousands of images, and trying to identify victims.

Friends told 22-year-old Alexandra Constantinidis on Monday evening about a minute-long video of her walking downtown. She immediately reported it to the police and by Tuesday morning the account was taken down.

"It was less that he'd taken the video of me, and more that he'd taken these terrible, horribly humiliating videos of other women and nobody said anything in a year," she told the BBC.

"And he had 17,000 followers who thought this was appropriate."

Many of the images and videos on the account were filmed up a woman's skirt. Since news of the account has spread online, many have circulated images from the account which appear to show the photographer reflected in mirrors or windows.

"On the hunt to find this dirtbag," said one internet sleuth.

Staff Sgt Cory Dayley said the videos are "clearly disturbing".

In Canada, a person can be charged with voyeurism if they "surreptitiously" observe someone who has "reasonable expectation of privacy".

A conviction can carry a sentence of anywhere between six months and two years per offence.

"If you're not punishing this behaviour, you're endorsing this behaviour," said Ms Constantinidis.

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