'Anonymous' won't release names of Rehtaeh Parsons suspects
Group claiming to be hacktivist network plans protest in Halifax
A group purported to be hacktivists Anonymous says that at the request of the family of Nova Scotia teenager Rehtaeh Parsons, it will withhold the names of the individuals alleged to have raped the teenager before her death, but adds others might not go along with that decision.
The 17-year-old was taken off life support and died Sunday following a suicide attempt.
Her mother, Leah Parsons, alleges Rehtaeh was raped by four boys who took photos of the incident, which she says sparked bullying and harassment.
No charges have been laid.
"We feel that honoring the Parsons’ wishes while they lay their daughter Rehtaeh to rest is the respectful thing to do," said a statement released Thursday from the purported group.
Earlier this week, a group claiming to be the leaderless, international collective vowed to identify those involved in the victimization of the teenager. In a video, a masked figure linked to the infamous hacktivists threatened to release the young men’s names if authorities didn’t reopen the case.
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But "it has come to our attention that several names have already been posted online to various websites, even tossed around on Twitter. Be aware that 99 per cent of you have named someone that is innocent," they wrote.
"We aren't playing guilty until proven innocent. We apologize to those of you who want this type of justice, but bashing someone's reputation online is just not good enough."
In the group's latest statement, it claims to have seen what it calls a confession from one of the young men, who admits he had sex with Rehtaeh and names three other boys who had sex with her as well.
The online collective said screenshots of this confession have been made available to police.
This has not been verified.
The group said if at some point it does decide to release names, it will ensure people know Anonymous is behind the leak.
Putting a face to Anonymous
Jon Blanchard, who says he's a Halifax member of Anonymous, is trying to bring accountability to Nova Scotia.
Blanchard says the government's handling of the Parsons case reminds him of neglectful bureaucracies in the developing world.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter has appointed four government departments to look into the death of the teen. Both Dexter and Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson have urged people not to become vigilantes.
Blanchard said the case has attracted the collective's attention because of a perceived lack of official concern.
"While everybody is shuffling the papers and trying to find what went wrong, they are the same people that let a 17-year-old girl kill herself," he said.
Hopes teen 'did not die in vain'
Anonymous and its offshoot, Lulz Security, have been linked to a number of high-profile computer attacks and crimes, including many that were meant to embarrass governments, federal agencies and corporate giants
But Blanchard said he has worked with Anonymous to publicize human rights issues in the developing world, including Syria and the Maldives. He says details are different, but the government response is the same.
"We are doing the same kind of bureaucratic no-speak that they are, and it's alarming and frankly embarrassing for me as a Nova Scotian. "
Blanchard said he hopes Rehtaeh’s legacy will be one of change.
"What the Anonymous community is trying to do is make sure that she did not die in vain."
A demonstration outside police headquarters in Halifax this weekend will be held by the group claiming to be Anonymous.