under fire following Zhang Ziyi/Bo Xilai sex claims

Zhang Ziyi, the world-famous actress, face of many top-brands and ambassador of many philanthropic organizations, faces a slander that might damage her image as well as her career. Photo: Xinhua

In an interview with Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW) radio, news organization's founder "Watson" Meng or Wei Shi has stated he won't back down from allegations of libel from Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, and plans to defend his case in court to the full extent of the law.

Zhang is currently pressing charges and claiming damages against the U.S.-based Chinese language news website after one of their articles claimed she was sexually involved with expelled Chinese politician Bo Xilai. As her lawyer Adam Le Berthon told the French AFP News Agency, "Our main point of contention is the accusation that Ms. Zhang has had sexual relations with Bo Xilai in exchange for upwards of 10 million RMB. In fact, not only Ms. Zhang has never met Mr. Bo; she has never had any contact with him whatsoever. According to the AFP report, Zhang is concurrently suing other media organizations including Hong Kong's Apple Daily and Next Magazine for printing similar rumors.

In the original Boxun report dated May 28 of this year, a Dalian business figure named Xu Ming admitted to offering 6 million RMB to Zhang Ziyi in exchange for sex. Xu claimed that after she complied numerous times, he "transferred" her to other high-ranking officials, including Bo Xilai. The online report was then picked up by Apple Daily and Next Magazine.

Outrage and counter-outrage

The media reports provoked a swift backlash from Zhang's fanbase, who accused Boxun of propagating "malicious slander in the highest degree" and demanded a public apology. Zhang herself took official court action on June 11, citing "libel", "invasion of privacy with intent to mislead", and "unprofessional behavior" on the part of Boxun. On the same day Zhang also pressed charges against Apple Daily and Next Magazine with the High Court of Hong Kong.

On June 12, the attorney representing Boxun told sources that the defendant "will not apologize and will not pay damages." Subsequent reports from Boxun in September claim that Bo Xilai was involved in inappropriate sexual activity with a number of women, with Zhang Ziyi once again implicated. On September 28, official Chinese media sources reported that Bo Xilai had in fact maintained inappropriate sexual relations with many women while in office.

"What kind of evidence do they want?"

In his interview with German DW Radio, Watson Meng stated he's confident that the growing amount of officially released information on the Bo Xilai case will continue to support his case: "I still believe it's true. Official government sources have already released information on Bo Xilai, including a list of [family] names of the women involved, and so far there's a lot of good evidence for our side confirming the original story. I think this story is just a political scandal; what kind of evidence do they want about that kind of person?"

"We're not giving her anything."

Meng also revealed what he believed to be an odd request from Zhang's lawyer, who asked for background information on Boxun's sources, including how much they were paid and by whom. This prompted Meng to suspect that Zhang may have other behind-the-scenes powers supporting her: "This is the bottom line: we're not giving her anything. They're threatening us. There are some things we are just not going to provide; even if the court rules in their favor, we're just not going to give it."

Zhang's lawyer will meet with Meng in the near future to collect evidence. "At this point, if they choose to continue, we're going to request that Zhang Ziyi appear in court. We're going to ask her a lot of questions, and she's going to be even more embarrassed because we've got a lot of details on our hands. She really doesn't want to take that next step. If she does, a lot of people are going to know about it, and she won't be able to lie. One lie in the courtroom and she's finished. I guess you could say I'm pretty optimistic."

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