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Harvested photos spark south China police crackdown

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A Hong Kong actor's already interesting love life has been further complicated after pictures of the star cavorting with several starlets appeared on the net.

Racy images apparently showing Edison Chen in bed with singer Gillian Chung, along with "suggestive images" of actress Cecilia Cheung, appeared online after reportedly being harvested from Chen's computer. The images were apparently taken from Chen's PC after he took it in for servicing last year, Hong Kong's Ming Pao via Reuters reports.

"A person in the shop found hidden inside (Chen's) computer, confidential nude pictures of naked female stars, which were then secretly copied," Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper, quoting an anonymous source, reports. The unnamed computer shop was subsequently raided by police as part of a wider operation into infringement of obscene publication laws which has resulted in the arrest of eight people. The operation has led to the seizure of hundreds of other explicit images.

Activists have criticised the police investigation as over the top.

Chen, who plays a supporting role in HK classic Infernal Affairs (remade by Scorsese as the Oscar-winning The Departed), has appeared in around 30 films and is due to appear as a villain in The Dark Knight, a sequel to 2005's successful superhero flick Batman Begins. He also has a successful singing career and runs a youth-orientated fashion label, CLOT Inc.

Last year the 27-year-old said he was abandoning his former playboy ways after announcing his engagement to Vincy Yeung, his girlfriend of three years. Pictures which purportedly show Chen sharing the amorous charms of former squeezes Chung and Cheung are likely to provoke some pointed questions and a possible extended spell sleeping in the spare bedroom.

The publication of the racy pics has sparked a media frenzy in the former British colony. Emperor Entertainment Group, agents for actress Gillian Chung, initially claimed that the photos were Photoshopped fakes. However, experts in digital photo manipulation reckon the pictures are pukka.

In a statement on his blog, the star complained that the media had misquoted him, using months-old comments as his response to the scandal. He promised to issue a press release on the matter, which is yet to appear online. ®

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