Feb 3, 2010
Cindy Crawford blackmail suspect charged
Feb 3, 2010
BERLIN, Feb 2, 2010 (AFP) - A German man accused of trying to blackmail Cindy Crawford over a photograph showing the supermodel's daughter gagged and bound has been indicted, prosecutors said Tuesday 2 February.
Edis Kayalar, 26, was charged with one count of extortion and two counts of attempted extortion for allegedly demanding Crawford pay him more than 100,000 dollars (72,000 euros), said the prosecutor's office in Stuttgart, southern Germany.
"In the photo, the seven-year-old daughter is seen sitting gagged with her hands and feet bound to a chair," it said in a statement.
The daughter, Kaia, told her parents, who were unaware of the image, that her nanny had taken the photograph at the family home in the United States as part of a "cops and robbers" game.
Kayalar, a friend of the nanny who was living in the United States at the time, took possession of the photo and warned Crawford, 43, and her husband, 48-year-old businessman Rande Gerber, that he would sell the picture to tabloid newspapers unless they paid him, according to the charge sheet.
The couple paid Kayalar 1,000 dollars last July and received the photo in return. But two days later, Kayalar allegedly claimed to have a digital copy of the picture and demanded more money.
Crawford and Gerber reported the extortion attempt as soon as Kayalar, who was already known to the police for drug-related offences, approached them, triggering an FBI investigation in the United States.
Prosecutors say Kayalar, a professional model according to entertainment site TMZ.com, demanded another 5,000 dollars in September but he was deported soon after due to immigration law violations.
He allegedly phoned the couple in November and demanded they transfer 100,000 dollars to his checking account in Germany.
But Kayalar worried the money would raise eyebrows with social welfare authorities as he was receiving unemployment benefits and went to Turkey, allegedly to open a separate bank account for the money from Crawford.
When he saw that the case had hit the local newspapers, Kayalar feared arrest in Turkey so he quickly returned to Germany and turned himself in to police, prosecutors said.
Before he returned to Germany, he was charged by US authorities with one count of extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of two years. German prosecutors have now included that case in their charges against him.
"Until now, he has only admitted to specific suspicious acts," the prosecutor's office said.
Crawford and Gerber have been married since 1998 and have two children together.by Deborah Cole
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