Dutch prosecutors have asked a judge for a three-year prison sentence for a local politician who doubled as a hacker and breached the personal iCloud accounts of more than 100 women, stealing and then leaking sexually explicit photos and videos online.
Victims included acquaintances, but also local celebrities, such as Dutch YouTube star Laura Ponticorvo and Dutch field hockey star Fatima Moreira de Melo.
Part of the TheFappening
The hacker is believed to have been part of the Celebgate (TheFappening) movement that started back in 2014 when a group of hackers began leaking nudes and sex tapes from Hollywood celebrities.
The original leaks sparked a series of copycats, who continued to leak new photos and videos throughout the subsequent years.
The Dutch politician is believed to have joined this movement circa 2015 when he was working as a copywriter in his home town of Almere.
Authorities say that he used credentials leaked in public data breaches to gain access to iCloud accounts of female victims. Here, he searched and downloaded sexually explicit content, some of which he later leaked online.
The hacker’s downfall came shortly after he leaked nude images and a sex tape from Dutch YouTube star Laura Ponticorvo. The leak, which happened in March 2017, caused quite a stir in Dutch media, also sparking an investigation.
Dutch law enforcement tracked the hacker down, raided his home, and placed him under arrest. He was publicly ousted a month later by a famous Dutch crime journalist, television presenter, and former police officer John van den Heuvel.
He was exposed as Mitchel van der K., a member of the VVD party in the Netherlands. At the time, van der K. had just won a seat on the Almere city council, from which he resigned, following the police investigation.
Hacker claims he was forced to hack victims
Van der K. never denied the charges and publicly admitted to the hacks. When defending his case, Van der K. said other hackers forced him to carry out the hacks, threatening to release data from his personal accounts if he did not.
Dutch prosecutors did not believe the suspect’s explanation, though, pointing out that half of the victims were personal acquaintances and were not famous enough to be of interest to anyone but the suspect.
Now, van der K.’s case is nearing its conclusion. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on December 24. As part of the pre-sentencing procedures, Dutch prosecutors have asked for a three-year prison sentence.
In 2017, and following some Dutch news outlets reported that police had also found images of van der K.’s underage niece on his computer, however, Dutch authorities never pressed child pornography charges, dispelling the rumors.