BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in the Chinese capital Beijing have vowed to detain anyone caught distributing nude photos of several Hong Kong pop stars that were recently posted on the Internet, state media reported on Thursday.
Hong Kong police said some 1,300 private shots of the celebrities had been stolen by the staff of a computer repair shop from a faulty laptop believed to belong to Canadian-born singer and actor Edison Chen.
The scandal has caused a media frenzy and feverish downloading and sharing of the photos. Hong Kong police have made several arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
Chinese media said police in the southern city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, had arrested 10 people suspected of producing, selling and purchasing compact discs of the photos.
“Showing the photos to friends or posting them on blogs or online forums will break the law even if it is not for the purpose of making profits,” the China Press and Publishing Journal quoted a Beijing police official as saying.
Those who do so could be put under detention for up to 15 days for a misdemeanor offense, the unnamed official said.
“If someone transmits more than 200 of the photos as a package on the Internet, the sender will be prosecuted for criminal liability,” the official was quoted as saying.
Authorities in mainland China have ordered Web sites and Internet service providers to exercise self-censorship, filtering and deleting the photos, but private sharing through instant messengers and other software remains rampant.
A Beijing Internet content watchdog has cited Chinese search engine giant Baidu for spreading the photos, asking it to apologize to the public, state media reported.
Tabloid newspapers in celebrity-mad Hong Kong have devoted wide coverage to the scandal, in which photos appear to include at least six stars including actress Cecilia Cheung and singer Gillian Chung.
Media in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China have produced a flood of editorials and commentaries reflecting on ethics, humanity, privacy and Internet policies.
Local media reported that Edison Chen might give a briefing in Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon in what would be his first public appearance since the scandal broke in January.
Reporting by Guo Shipeng in Beijing and James Pomfret in Hong Kong; Editing by Ken Wills