Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi is suing a US-based Chinese online news outlet over claims that she was a prostitute who had sex with top official Bo Xilai and others, a lawyer said today.
The “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” star is taking legal action for libel in Los Angeles over the claims by Boxun News, which is based in North Carolina and offers Chinese- and English-language news online.
“At the heart of all of the claims are a series of libelous defamatory statements printed by Boxun News about Zhang Ziyi,” attorney Adam LeBerthon, of the law firm representing the actress, said.
“Boxun News printed repeatedly that Zhang Ziyi is a prostitute. and that’s the heart of our allegations. She does not know him, has not met him and has nothing whatsoever to do with him.”
The next court hearing in the case is scheduled for October 16, followed by another on November 16, but no trial date has yet been set. LeBerthon said the actress will likely not attend the pre-trial hearings.
“She will certainly be there at the time of trial (although) the parties typically do not various pre-trial hearings,” he added. “I don’t expect Ms Zhang Ziyi to be any different.”
Zhang launched legal action in June against Hong Kong’s leading newspaper the Apple Daily and its sister weekly Next Magazine over reports that she prostituted herself with senior Chinese officials.
An article in Apple Daily on May 29 said Zhang “is a prostitute” and had sex with Bo and his wealthy associate Xu Ming for money on “numerous occasions,” the court document said.
Bo was sacked from his post as boss of Chongqing city in March and then suspended from China’s powerful central politburo for “serious discipline violation” — code for corruption. He has not been seen since.
His wife, Gu Kailai, is in custody under suspicion of ordering the murder of a British businessman.
The website said Boxun News was founded in 2000, adding that its mission was to become the “most trusted Chinese online news service by insisting on ‘Independence’ and ‘Journalistic Objectivity.'”