Exclusive interview: Edison Chen breaks his silence

Internet sex photos of Edison Chen and starlets caused a huge media storm and fall from grace for many.
He has been at the center of Asia’s biggest sex scandal, but now actor Edison Chen has broken his silence on the public episode that has ended careers and caused him to suffer death threats.

Talking exclusively to CNN on his return to Hong Kong, where he had been forging a career in the movies, Chen reveals his side of the scandal that broke in early 2008. It centers on sexually explicit photos of him with other celebrities that appeared on the Internet, leaked by a former employee of a computer repair shop. Last month Dicky Sze Ho-chun, a computer technician from Hong Kong, was sentenced to jail after being found guilty of dishonestly obtaining access to the intimate photos. The photographs caused a media outcry in Hong Kong and across Asia, with around 1,300 salacious images fueling front page news for tabloids for months.

Show timesWednesday, June 3: 13.30 GMT (20.30 Hong Kong)Thursday, June 4: 04.00 GMT (11.00 Hong Kong)Saturday, June 6: 05.30, 15.30, 19.30 GMT (12.30, 22.30, 02.30 Hong Kong)Monday, June 8: 03.00 GMT (10.00 Hong Kong)Tuesday, June 9: 16.30 GMT (23.30 Hong Kong)

It also caused a huge public backlash against the 28-year-old who has been one of the rising young stars of Asia cinema. Added to the media attention, Chen faced death threats — a bullet was sent to a TV station in Hong Kong warning him to stay out of the limelight — forcing him to leave Hong Kong to live in the USA, Canada and Singapore for the last 15 months. While the sensational aspects fueled the saga, the incident also caused a heated public debate on the issue of privacy on the Internet. While Chen issued his own apology for any hurt or embarrassment caused soon after the photos surfaced, he maintains he was a victim in the whole affair. “I believed I was a victim. I believed that I was hurt by this a lot. I believed that…I knew that I had nothing to do with the spreading of these photos,” he told CNN. “I can’t say I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve admitted that I was wrong and I wouldn’t say sorry if I wasn’t wrong, but I also believe that at the same time that I wasn’t the perpetrator and I had suffered a lot from this as well.” Chen has suffered a spectacular fall from grace, and some of the starlets in the photos have endured similar public disgrace and for some their careers have been ruined, unable to work in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry again. Chen admits not having spoken to any of the girls identified in the photos since the scandal broke. “Initially it was because I couldn’t find them. Secondly, it was because I didn’t really know how to approach and really what to say to be honest with you,” Chen told CNN. Cecilia Cheung was one person identified in the photos, who accused Chen of being a hypocrite and a fraud who ignored her while the episode was unfolding in a very public way. “I wasn’t allowed to talk to her in the initial because of the police request and they were investigating me. I was the one who had to go on trial, you know. I had so much things on my mind,” said Chen. “I’m not trying to say that that justifies any wrong doing that she thinks I’ve done to her, but I hope that she can understand and I hope that she can forgive me either today or one day, and she’ll understand that I had my difficulties and I really, really never wished this to happen upon anyone and I still respect her.” Watch the full, exclusive TV interview with Edison Chen on CNN TV and here online on Wednesday, June 3. Chen talks at length to CNN’s Anjali Rao about the women involved in the photographs, why he took the images, the effect the scandal had on his health, his family and others.