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PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 10:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 11:48am

Woman in Chongqing sex tape arrested on extortion charges

BIO

Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for SCMP.com. Amy can be reached at chunxiao.li@scmp.com, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP
 

The woman who appeared in a sex tape that forced a Chongqing district level party chief  to resign and triggered the expulsion of 10 other officials has been arrested and charged with extortion, reported China’s Southern Metropolis Daily on Thursday.

For months, people have been speculating on the whereabouts of Zhao Hongxia and the punishment she could face.

Zhao was arrested on December 31 and is staying at a Chongqing detention centre, said her lawyer Zhang Zhiyong.

The other two women, who had worked with Zhao to trap Chongqing officials, were also arrested, said the report.

Using Zhao and several other young women as bait, Chongqing businessman Xiao Ye was accused of luring at least a dozen Chongqing officials into a “honey trap”.  

Xiao trained the women and asked them to secretly videotape officials when having sex with them. Then he blackmailed these officals and demanded they give him lucrative government contracts, according to media reports.

Zhao said Xiao had recruited her in 2008 and had claimed to be a Hong Kong businessman who needed help with sales.

Xiao also told her he was single, she said. His wife, whom Xiao referred to as his “cousin” in the office, was actually working in the same company when Zhao was hired.

Xiao quickly started a relationship with Zhao after she got the job and talked her into helping him with his secret mission, said Zhao.

Zhao said she had been “brainwashed” by Xiao, believing “sacrificing” herself and  playing along with his scheme would help his company sell clothes, said her lawyer.

But she quit in early 2009 after finding out Xiao was seeing several other female employees at the same time, said the report.

Zhao is now married and mother of a one-year-old, said the report. Reflecting on what she did for Xiao, she said she was too naive, according to her lawyer Zhang.

“Zhao is a victim herself,” said Zhang. “Please stop hurting her and her family by mocking her.”

Zhao Hongxia became a hot topic in China after the scandal broke and her photo was posted online. Many netizens poked fun at Zhao, calling her a "courageous anti-corruption fighter". Others criticised her ruthlessly. 

The sex tape scandal has toppled 11 officials so far. The whistle-blower, a Beijing-based citizen journalist Zhu Ruifeng,  said earlier this week that he had new evidence to implicate more Chongqing officials.

Despite talks that Xiao has been arrested, the news hasn't been confirmed by officials.

An application for bail has been submitted on Zhao's behalf, said Zhang.

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