Canto-pop star in court over sex photos
The Hong Kong-Canadian pop star who took photos while having sex with a string of female celebrities told a court Monday he was shocked when the images were plastered across the Internet.
Edison Chen, one of Asia's biggest entertainment stars, gave evidence in the case of Sze Ho-Chun, a computer technician charged in Hong Kong with illegally posting the explicit photos online.
The photos became an Internet sensation when they were posted last February, forcing Chen, 28, into early retirement and sending him fleeing to his childhood home of Canada.
The pictures showed Chen in compromising positions with various celebrities, including Canto-pop star Gillian Chung, actress Cecilia Cheung and former actress Bobo Chan.
Chen told the unusual hearing in Vancouver that the photos were his, but that they had been stored on a personal laptop computer that had gone missing last year.
He told the court he believed the release of the photos was due to "some foul play" by workers at a computer store he used in Hong Kong.
"I'm quite a private person," said Chen. "This was never meant for anyone else to see."
The hearing was scheduled for a week but wrapped up in just a day.
A crowd of two dozen photographers, many from Asian tabloids, mobbed Chen as he left the court building surrounded by burly private security guards.
Hong Kong's Department of Justice flew a legal team, including Hong Kong's chief magistrate, to Vancouver after Chen had refused to return to the southern Chinese city to give evidence.
The decision to fly over the legal team and the intensity of the original police investigation have been criticised in Hong Kong, with some claiming the case has garnered special attention because of Chen's celebrity status.
The Vancouver native of Portuguese-Chinese parents was discovered a decade ago by a talent agent in a Hong Kong club and became an icon in the music, film and fashion industries in Asia.
Chen, whose full name is also known as Edison Chen Koon-hei, recorded 16 albums under the EEG (Emperor Entertainment Group) label, of which the latest is 2007's "Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself."
Before his retirement Chen had a cameo role in the 2008 Batman movie "The Dark Knight," and a voice-over in the Cantonese version of the animated children's movie "Shrek."
But his career was destroyed by the appearance of hundreds of the sex photos, which caused a storm in celebrity-obsessed but culturally conservative Hong Kong.
Chen's cause was not helped by the fact he was reportedly dating Vincy Yeung, the niece of the head of EEG, effectively Chen's boss at the time.
He soon announced his retirement and said he would be focusing on charity work.
The scandal spread across Asia, where Hong Kong stars are hugely popular, with police in Taiwan and China arresting around a dozen people for allegedly possessing and distributing the photographs.
Despite his retirement, Chen's fame has not faded.
He was the most-searched personality late last year in Asia, according to Google, and Asian media regularly report ongoing boycotts of restaurants and stores associated with his name.