THE scandal sparked by raunchy photos allegedly featuring Hong Kong actor Edison Chen with near-naked female celebrities may have reached another level – that of blackmail and extortion.
A short message was posted online on Wednesday by a China netizen who claimed to have “a batch of videos”, which he threatened to make public if he did not receive RMB30-50million ($5.9-$6.9m) by Chinese New Year, reported Oriental Daily News.
It was not clear who he was trying to blackmail, and it is not known if the message was genuine. But the media linked it to the Edison scandal.
Oriental Daily said it was “worrying” how the saga became a “more and more crazy” situation.
The controversy began on Sunday night, when a picture, supposedly of the Canadian-born actor and Twins star Gillian Chung in a suggestive pose, appeared in the adult photo section of a Hong Kong forum.
Then more pictures emerged, one allegedly showing retired singer-actress Bobo Chan performing a sex act on Edison, and others supposedly showing actress Cecilia Cheung in various states of undress.
The stars’ managers condemned the pictures as fake and called for the Hong Kong police to investigate.
The latest development: A fifth picture of “Cecilia” has surfaced, showing her navel ring, a flower-shaped tattoo near her right pelvic bone and a hint of a tattoo on her left waist.
These marks correspond with those seen on Cecilia when she was photographed wearing a bikini.
But this is only part of the series of 20-odd photos found online, some of which are explicit.
Yesterday, the Hong Kong media also listed 14 other stars, including Maggie Q, Nikki Chow, Rain Li and Rosanne Wong of pop duo 2R, who are at risk of being “exposed”.
Taiwan’s Jolin Tsai and Elva Hsiao also made the list.
All of them have one thing in common – they have been linked romantically to Edison at some time.
One of the actor’s close friends claimed to the media that Edison likes to take intimate photos with his women and he would show them to a select group of friends.
This pal added that at least 14 female celebs have taken such photos with Edison.
But some of those listed, like Rosanne and Nikki, have denied any connection to the scandal.
A Singapore PR, Rosanne admitted to The Sun on Wednesday that she was worried about becoming the next victim and that her friends had been asking her about it.
“I can swear on my life and my family members’ lives that I’ve never taken such photos. But if someone is really pulling a prank on me for the sake of money, I have nothing to say.”
Nikki said it was best not to comment as she did not wish to get involved.
In Taiwan, Jolin told the media she hopes the law can protect the innocent.
Elva reportedly said she has not been in contact with Edison for a long time and was shocked to hear of the photos.
Meanwhile, a rumour emerged that Gillian tried to kill herself at home on Wednesday night.
But her manager denied the rumour, insisting she only had a fever and was resting at home.
Edison reportedly left Hong Kong for Boston on Wednesday to be with his girlfriend, Vincy Yeung, the niece of media tycoon Albert Yeung.
Edison, 28, was supposed to fly to Canada to spend Chinese New Year with his mother, but he changed his plans to be with Vincy instead.
A friend told the media that Edison felt depressed and guilt-ridden because of the scandal.
He added that Edison had been unable to sleep and had called to speak to the female stars involved.
Meanwhile, a team of 100 Hong Kong police officers is investigating the case.
Ming Pao Daily News reported yesterday that an unemployed man in his 30s has been arrested in Hong Kong, and 12 of the sex photos were found stored in his computer.
The police team has also nailed down 30 IP addresses linked to netizens who posted the photos online.
Cecilia’s husband, actor Nicholas Tse, and her celeb father-in-law Patrick Tse reacted differently to the news.
Nicholas just laughed it off, apparently because he knew the photos were fake, reported Oriental Daily.
But Patrick, who is known to dote on Cecilia, threw a fit and told reporters that if he finds the culprit, he would “tear him apart”.