Greta Thunberg responds to cartoon appearing to show her being assaulted

Kalhan Rosenblatt

Teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg has responded to a graphic cartoon appearing to depict her being sexually assaulted after a wave of social media backlash against a Canadian oil company whose logo appears on the image.

The image appears to show a nude young girl from behind while two hands grab at her braided pigtails. The name "Greta" appears across her back, and below her is the logo for X-Site Energy Services of Alberta.

On Saturday, Thunberg, 17, tweeted: "They are starting to get more and more desperate... This shows that we're winning."

Thunberg, who often wears her hair in pigtails as depicted in the image, has become a leading voice in the fight against climate change and is known worldwide for her activism.

As of Sunday morning, it appeared the websites and social media for X-Site Energy Services had been removed.

NBC News did not immediately receive a comment from Doug Sparrow, the company's general manager. However, Sparrow told Canada's Global News that he was aware of the image but that his company was not responsible for it.

"We did not post those stickers or pictures on social media," Sparrow told Global News. "They have been tagged on our accounts — personal and company — which I'm shutting down right now to try to mitigate the damages. We did not post that stuff on media, OK?"

Global News said it repeatedly asked Sparrow about the image's origin, to which he declined to comment.

On Friday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Alberta said in a statement that after an investigation, it had been determined that "the decal does not meet the elements of child pornography ... nor does the decal depict a non-consensual act that would be a direct threat to the person. Alberta RCMP do not believe it constitutes a criminal offense."

Despite officials' declining to bring a criminal charge, many Canadian officials denounced the image.

Alberta's minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women, Leela Aheer, tweeted, "The graphic in this article is completely deplorable, unacceptable and degrading. This is not what our province stands for. Whoever is responsible should be ashamed and apologize immediately. I stand with Albertans against this horrendous image."

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney responded supporting Aheer's statement.

"Thank-you for denouncing this odious image and the message it sends, @LeelaAheer," he wrote.