1000-plus leaked nude celeb pics case goes to court

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The Independent Online

The Chinese-Canadian film star in a racy scandal over photos that showed him in bed with eight of China's best-known actresses and singers testified against the person accused of accessing his private laptop, which held the images.

The scandal dominated Hong Kong headlines for weeks last year, and the Chinese government censured the country's top internet search engine for allegedly helping spread the photos of the stars apparently performing sex acts or in sexually suggestive poses.

Edison Chen, the Vancouver-born star who moved to China as a teenager, testified in a British Columbia courtroom for the trial of Ho Chun Sze, which is taking place in Hong Kong. Sze faces three counts of obtaining access to a computer with illegal intent.

Chen refused to return to Hong Kong for the case but he agreed to a deposition in Canada. Hong Kong Chief Magistrate Tong Man flew to Vancouver to hear the evidence.

Canadian Department of Justice lawyer Kerry Swift said the testimony will become part of the case in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong judiciary is allowed to take testimony under a mutual legal assistance treaty and Chen's testimony will be presented in the Hong Kong case as a deposition.

"I'm quite a private person. I enjoy my privacy. I need my privacy," said Chen, star of a popular series of Hong Kong action films. "This was never meant for anyone else to see."

Police say the images were illegally copied from the laptop of Chen, who left show business after apologising for the scandal. Some of the pages hosting the photos at the time received more than 25 million hits, and the celebrity feeding frenzy crashed the web in Hong Kong.

Chen said the images were released in spurts.

"It was more of an attack, a well-planned attack in the way these images were released," he said.

Chen told the judges he would not answer questions about the women. "I am determined to protect their innocence," he said. "They have suffered enough."

A reluctant Chen was ordered by the Canadian judge to confirm the identities of some women in the pictures. They are actress Cecilia Pak-Chi Cheung, actor-singer Gillian Yan-Tung Chung, former actress Bobo Man-Yu Chan and model-actress Rachel Sze-Wing Ngan.

The series of photographs showing Chen in bed with eight of the country's best-known actresses and singers surfaced on the internet in January 2008. Chen said that the computer was taken for repairs in the summer of 2006. He said he thought he had deleted the images from the computer.

"That strongly led me to believe that there was some foul play in this computer store," he said.

Chen also testified that he noticed that a second laptop went missing when he was moving last year, but told the judge he did not disclose his password to anyone.

Then on 29 January 2008, he said his friends started contacting him about the images circulating on the internet.

"This was a very huge shock to me," Chen told the court.

A month later, a police inspector showed him a compact disk of photographs.

"Of course, I had seen these pictures. I took these pictures. They were in my personal computer," he said.

Chen called the theft of the photos an "invasion of privacy."

"Everything was consensual," he said.

Chen, a rap singer and star of a popular series of Hong Kong action films, apologised last year for the scandal and left the entertainment business, recently returning to his childhood home of British Columbia.

Dozens of Chinese-language and English-language photographers and media gathered at the Canadian court for Chen's appearance.