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Chen sex-pix thief gets prison

A HONG Kong computer technician was sentenced to eight months and 15 days in prison yesterday for illegally possessing pictures that showed actor-singer Edison Chen having sex with female celebrities.

A Hong Kong magistrate's court ordered the defendant, Sze Ho-chun, 24, to begin his jail term immediately, though his attorney said he would appeal. Sze was found guilty last month on three charges related to accessing Chen's computer.

Though there was not enough evidence to show Sze sent Chen's photos over the Internet, it was clear he had obtained the photos without Chen's permission, Chief Magistrate Tong Man said.

Tong said Sze had breached the trust of his employer in stealing the images of Chen posing with local female celebrities. He said Sze had put material belonging to other people at risk and had not considered their feelings.

The photos turned up on the Internet after Chen sent his laptop in for repair at the computer store where Sze worked. Though Chen said he had deleted the intimate shots, encrypted data from the computer's hard drive were obtained by store staff, including Sze, and illegally distributed over the Internet, setting off a celebrity sex scandal.

The appearance of the photos last year forced Chen and the women to take a break from their careers.

Two of Sze's customers testified at earlier hearings that Sze had copied the photos onto compact discs and saved them in an online database.

In early 2008, Hong Kong police arrested 10 people, including Sze, in connection with the distribution of the photos, but the distributor, dubbed "Killer," has never been apprehended.

Chen, a Chinese-Canadian, testified against Sze and identified several of the women featured in the photos at a deposition in Vancouver, Canada, in February.

None of the female celebrities - including singer Gillian Chung and actress Cecilia Cheung - appeared during the 10-day trial.

Chen apologized for the scandal in February 2008. He and other stars featured in the photos have only recently started to reappear in public.

Chen was in the 2002 hit Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs," among other films.


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