On Tuesday night, MLA for Chestermere Strathmore Leela Aheer's social media accounts were hacked. The attack is being investigated by the RCMP as alleged images of child pornography were circulated on the MLA’s social media platforms last week.
Aheer, who is currently running in the leadership campaign for the UCP, held a news conference yesterday where she addressed the grotesque attack which she says was targeted.
“We'd only found out because somebody went on my Facebook page and saw a picture of a Lamborghini there instead of all of our data for the leadership campaign,” she said. “We started doing a dive into finding out who hacked it. It was quite deep, so we had been working with a couple different companies to try and figure out how to get us our data back.”
“Two days ago. I woke up in the morning. I was up at 5:45 and saw that there had been a bunch of notifications from Facebook,” she said.
Aheer explained that she received a link to preserve her personal account from Facebook. After taking screenshots and sending information to her campaign manager she said one of the links revealed an image of a child being violated sexually.
“I didn't even realize what it was initially,” she said. The Chestermere RCMP were contacted immediately.
“They came immediately because of the nature of the content and took my statement. I was on the phone with victim services for the rest of the day, giving statements,” she said.
Risk assessments were also completed and it was later revealed that the MLA’s phone number was also shared publicly.
“People are afraid. I had called out and been very vocal about my principles with respect to what I believe leadership is and what my expectations are of any of those who are running for leadership with respect to race and sexuality and about white supremacy and other things that have been very much a part of politics for too long,” she said.
“Because I've made a strong stance about not tolerating bigotry, we believe that this is targeted. I came out with a strong statement about my beliefs and this is what happened. Because I'm female, because I'm ethnic, because I'm a strong, vocal person, and because I don't stand for baloney,” she said.
“If this happens to somebody like me, you can imagine the fear that it puts into other people, particularly women in politics,” she said.
She noted that the RCMP are investigating because the content of the posts are criminal.
Aheer says she has received calls condemning the attack from some of in her caucus, along with Rajan Sawhney, another leadership candidate and the Leader of the Oppositions and a few opposition members.
“It's one thing for them to attack me in my campaign. I'm a politician. This, unfortunately, is just the way of the nature of the world right now, but to use a violation of a child in order to try and either discredit who I am or our campaign, to forward an agenda to stop somebody from having a voice, that only motivates me more to do the right thing,” she said.
“I will not back down and I will not be silent.”
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