Fri, Feb 22, 2008
The Straits Times
Edison Chen bargains with police before his return to HK

EDISON Chen, the central figure in the sex photos scandal that has rocked Hong Kong showbiz, asked the police to agree to three of his demands before he returned to the city, a Hong Kong newspaper has reported.

The Vancouver-born actor and singer, quietly flew into Hong Kong on Thursday and managed to sneak past the paparazzi who have been camping at the airport since Sunday.

He later made a six-minute appearance at a packed press conference where he announced that he is quitting from the local entertainment scene 'to heal' himself.

Explicit photographs of Edison Chen with actresses and pop stars, including Canto-pop star Gillian Chung, actress Cecilia Cheung and former actress Bobo Chan, have been plastered across the Internet over the past few weeks, causing a storm in this celebrity-obsessed city.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the scandal broke in January, Chen, 27, said on Thursday he had returned to Hong Kong to account for himself. He also apologised to all the people for all the suffering that he had caused.

Media reports say the photos were copied from Chen's customised pink Apple notebook computer when he sent it in for repairs.

The computer is said to contain more images than the 1,300 photos authorities know of so far. A few hundred of them have been leaked onto the internet since Jan 29.

More were found on hard disks and CDs when police raided the homes of people suspected of stealing or leaking the images.

Chen on Thursday admitted taking the photos but said they had been stolen from him.

In what a report in South China Morning Post described as a 'security blanket and motorcade fit fir a visiting PM', as many as 100 policemen surrounded Chen's car and formed a human chain to keep him away from the public and media as he arrived at the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre to face the media.

SCMP said he has been under police protection since returning to Hong Kong. Sing Tao Daily reported that the veteran actor negotiated with the police through his lawyers for 24-hour police protection, a safe house and a guarantee of his status as a witness.

According to the newspaper, the police have agreed to the first request if circumstances require, but have refused to commit to the second or third.

Threats to Chen's life have been made by some Netizens since the scandal exploded. Some media and online reports said that the triads are after him, because some of the celebrities affected are managed or related to people with gang connections.

Chen also fears that if he helps the police with their investigation, his status might change from witness to suspect, said Sing Tao Daily, citing a source close to the star.

A Netizen said even with police protection, Chen may not be safe. 'Maybe I have watched too many triad movies and series and believe in the TVB style of settling things with a gun shot,' she said.

Meanwhile, authorities in Guangzhou city have vowed to step up their crackdown on illegal trading of DVDs containing the nude photos.

Officers on Thursday confiscated more than 300 such discs.

The Guangzhou authorities will also carry out a citywide inspection campaign on audio and video shops to flush the videos out of the market, said an official. At the downtown Liwan District Electronics Market, the discs labelled 'hot celebrity nude photos' were sold at 10-40 yuan each in some shops, said a China Daily report on Thursday.

'Usually, we sell this kind of products at a price of just 5 yuan. But this incident - Chen's nude photo scandal - has been so hot,' said a shopkeeper. He added that even teenagers are buying the discs.

'They know all the celebrities involved in the scandal,' he said. Parents have been worried about the negative effects that such photos would bring to their children.

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