RCMP are investigating a cyber attack that compromised some of Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer’s social media platforms last week.
Aheer hosted a press conference on Aug. 24, discussing that her personal and political Facebook pages had been hacked and were being used for sexual exploitation.
Aheer said much of the imagery that had been posted to her pages was extremely graphic in depicting human trafficking and child pornography.
“I’m angry and I’m disgusted (and) I’m also very motivated to find out who did this. But more than that, to be able to continue to stand strong,” said Aheer. “These things are done and they’re targeted to try and shut people up and to stop them from doing the work that they’re doing. And all they’ve done is motivated me to stand even stronger. And I’m not going anywhere.”
Aheer added during the press conference she would be meeting with RCMP and the matter was, and as of publication, still is being investigated.
Though she does not know the specific reason as to why the attacks occurred, she strongly believes it was a targeted attack meant to damage her campaign for leadership of the United Conservative Party.
“It was frustrating because it (stopped) us from being able to promote and work on our campaign … I woke up to notifications on my Facebook saying I needed to restore my pages. They went after my public, then my personal page,” said Aheer. “These things happen to try and silence people and particularly in the world right now with women in politics and in journalism, and we can’t back down from this stuff … (we) have to collectively come together as a community to end this kind of stuff.”
Aheer declined to point fingers as she did not wish to falsely accuse any party of attacking her campaign. The attacks, however, closely follow condemning statements she posted to Twitter regarding bigotry, racism and homophobia.
Similarly, Aheer had previously pulled out from a debate scheduled to be hosted by a pro-independence group, the Alberta Prosperity Project (APP) and Rebel News, a right-wing media group.
“White supremacy, homophobia and racism have been supported and encouraged for too long in politics,” Aheer wrote on Twitter. “Anyone participating in the Prosperity Project / Rebel Media debate should be held accountable for supporting this toxic culture.”
Aheer described that she will never forget the imagery that was perpetuated using her account.
The hacked pages have since been re-established and details of the attack have been submitted to the RCMP. Aheer has taken a stance affirming that she will not back down and intends to continue discussions to raise awareness regarding human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times