November 28, 2012
Sex tape scandals: They're not just for Kim Kardashian anymore.
A five-year-old sex video showing an 18-year-old girl allegedly hired by developers to sleep with a city official, Lei Zhengfu, has caused outrage in Communist China.
It went viral following a suspected extortion attempt.
Lei Zhengfu, who is in his 50s, has since been fired from his position as district party secretary after the video went public showing him in ... well, censored photos appear below.
What began as an object of ridicule could snowball into a national crisis as a whistle-blowing former journalist says he may release similar tapes of more officials.
That would be a tough pill to swallow for a party that is still recovering from the backlash of former politician Bo Xilai's high-profile recent downfall.
Chongqing, the city that he ran, has already been long depicted by prosecutors and state media as rife with cover-ups, abuse of power and corruption.
Bo's own wife was recently convicted of murdering a British businessman, which he faces allegations of corruption and obstruction of justice in the murder case.
The Lei Zhengfu sex tape currently causing embarrassment was reportedly filmed in 2007.
It leaked this month as China's newly installed leadership attempts to fight corruption and combat the steady stream of bribery and graft cases that threatens its authority.
Initial lewd screen shots were uploaded by Beijing-based former journalist Zhu Ruifeng to his Hong Kong-registered website on November 20.
Zhu told the Associated Press that the young woman was hired by a construction company to sleep with Lei in return for construction contracts.
The company later tried to use the tape to extort more business from Lei, he said.
The whistleblower said after the blackmail attempt, Lei reported the case to Chongqing officials sometime around 2009, which led to him being jailed for a year on unrelated charges.
Chongqing's corruption watchdog had pledged a thorough investigation of Lei, who was dismissed Friday, but said it had yet to formally receive a report.
"The Internet is worth being embraced by the country's corruption busters as a close ally," revealed a telling editorial in the China Daily on Tuesday.
"Strangely, the mistress was once detained and the contractor jailed for blackmailing Lei. What had happened? ... These are crucial questions waiting to be answered."
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