Woman in Chongqing sex-tapes scandal charged with extortion

Firm ‘brainwashed’ Zhao Hongxia to obtain dirt on officials, lawyer says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 4:34am

The woman at the centre of a sex scandal that has been the downfall of 11 officials has been arrested and charged with extortion, according to her lawyer.

Zhao Hongxia was detained in November after screen shots from a video showing her having sex with Chongqing district-level party official Lei Zhengfu were posted online, Zhang Zhiyong said.

Lei was fired after the shots went viral, and Xinhua reported yesterday that he would be handed over to judicial authorities following an investigation into allegations he was involved in economic crimes and bribery.

"Zhao was officially arrested on December 31 for extortion," Zhang said yesterday, adding that she had been "brainwashed" by a company she left in 2009 to secretly record herself having sex with officials to give the firm leverage. "After all, she was young and a victim herself."

A staff member at the Chongqing People's Procuratorate refused to comment. Zhao's former employer could not be reached.

Zhu Ruifeng , who posted the screen shots, said a police source told him that the firm had trained young women to secretly record sex videos.

State media said last week that a Chongqing construction firm had hired at least one woman as part of a blackmail scheme and the bosses had been arrested.

Zhao has drawn support on social media, with internet users hailing her as a heroine for exposing corrupt officials.

Many have compared Zhao's case with that of Deng Yujiao , a hotel waitress who in 2009 stabbed to death a local party official in Hubei and wounded another after they tried to force themselves on her.

Deng was charged with assault, rather than murder, but walked free on grounds of diminished responsibility after having received widespread support from the online community.