HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Hong Kong court on Wednesday found a computer technician guilty of stealing over 1,300 sexually explicit pictures off the computer of actor Edison Chen, which were widely distributed and tarnished the careers of several stars across Asia.
Appearing in court wearing dark glasses, a cap and face mask as photographers swarmed around him, Sze Ho-chun was found guilty by a Hong Kong magistrate of three counts of obtaining access to a computer with a view to making a dishonest gain.
Sze, 24, who serviced a laptop computer belonging to Chen in 2006, was accused of unlocking encrypted files, then copying and distributing over 1300 lewd photographs.
Chen, who has a regional following, admitted to taking the pictures of him performing sex acts with at least half a dozen women, including the Hong Kong starlets Cecilia Cheung, Bobo Chan and Cantopop star Gillian Chung from the pop duo Twins.
Since the scandal broke last year, the explicit photographs have spread over the Internet and been splashed across the city’s newspapers, burning the careers of starlets such as Chung who had to split from her singing partner Charlene Choi.
Chief Magistrate Tong Man called Sze’s actions a “serious crime” as well as a breach of trust in delivering his verdict.
He adjourned sentencing till May 13 but said a jail term was inevitable given the nature of the crime.
“I’ve worried for two years already and now I have to worry some more,” said Sze’s tearful mother outside the court house.
The Canada-born Chen who publicly apologized for the controversy has since largely taken refuge overseas. A television station in Hong Kong was recently sent a death threat letter accompanied with a bullet, warning Chen to stop making public appearances.
Chen, 28, has appeared in films such as “Infernal Affairs” a Hong Kong triad film which inspired Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” as well as the recently released film “The Sniper.”
Reporting by James Pomfret, editing by Miral Fahmy