HONG KONG – Disgraced Hong Kong pop star Edison Chen has said that all the hundreds of sex photos of him with a string of starlets were taken with the women's full consent, in the latest twist to the celebrity saga.
In an interview with CNN's Talk Asia, the Canadian-born star said the explicit pictures, which caused a huge scandal when they found their way on to the Internet last year, had been agreed with the stars.
"Everything was mutual. It was all consensual," he said in the interview, which is set to be aired on Wednesday.
"If I have a camera in front of your face and there's a flash, do you know that I'm taking a photo of you? That's as simple as it is."
More than 1,300 photos, which show Chen and the starlets in compromising positions, shocked many in the celebrity-obsessed but culturally conservative city and ruined the careers of some of the actresses and singers involved.
Chen apologised to one of the actresses, Cecilia Cheung, who had earlier criticised Chen for not saying sorry.
"I wasn't allowed to talk to her in the initial because of the police request and they were investigating me, which already had troubled me a lot... I really do feel sorry. I really am sorry to her."
A Hong Kong computer technician was last month jailed for eight-and-a-half months for stealing the photos from Chen's laptop when he sent it in for repairs, but it is still unclear how the pictures made there way onto the Web.
After their Internet appearance in February last year they became one of the most searched-for items in Asia, where Hong Kong celebrities are huge stars.
Soon after Chen, whose albums and film appearances made him one of Asia's biggest entertainment stars, announced his retirement from the Hong Kong entertainment scene and fled to his childhood home of Canada.
"I was afraid to go anywhere. I was travelling around when I was still in Hong Kong in trunks of taxis, literally, just to get to places," he told CNN.
"I had to be in the trunk for 15 minutes. I didn't even know if I had enough oxygen to be honest with you."
"Even when I had left Asia and I had went to Canada and America, it took me three months to really get out of the shell that I had put myself in. I mean, I was in darkness for five days," he added.
"I had my drapes closed and I didn't even want to go anywhere."