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Jail time in topless pix case

THE former chief editor of a Hong Kong-based magazine has been sentenced to five months in prison for publishing a topless photo of a kidnapped actress seven years ago.

The picture of Carina Lau appeared on the cover of East Week on October 30, 2002, after she was kidnapped in 1990. She was released unharmed, and the reason for the abduction has never been revealed. Media reports speculated it may have been done by mobsters who were angry at her.

The defendant, Mong Hon-ming, 52, earlier received a six-month suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty last December.

But the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong ruled on Tuesday that the original magistrate had been misled and the sentence was too lenient.

When East Week published the photo, the eyes and breasts of the actress were pixilated. But Lau admitted she was the person in the image, sparking outrage in Hong Kong. Actor Jackie Chan vowed to organize a boycott of East Week, and other Hong Kong actors and entertainers also condemned the magazine.

A protest a month later by more than 500 leading Hong Kong celebrities - including Jackie Chan, the late Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui - demanded that the media show greater respect for people's privacy.

Reeling from the pressure, the magazine suspended operations three days after it released the photo and issued apologies in major newspapers. Mong resigned, and the photo was declared obscene by the Hong Kong government.

In March 2003, Hong Kong police arrested 11 management officials at East Week, including Mong, and launched investigation into the topless photograph.


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