China charges six in sex video "extortion" case

Reuters News
Posted: May 22, 2013 1:46 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in the city of Chongqing has charged six people with working together to blackmail government officials by recording videos of them having sex, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

The six were charged with extortion on Monday, Xinhua said, citing a statement from judicial authorities in Chongqing, where they are slated to be tried.

Investigators said the group "lured officials into having sex with women and secretly recorded their encounters to blackmail them from 2008 to 2009", Xinhua said.

The charges come after a high profile case in which footage of a district party chief having sex with his mistress went viral on the microblog service Sina Weibo, creating an uproar. State media said the official, Lei Zhengfu, has been removed from his post and will face corruption charges.

Party officials are banned from keeping mistresses and the video came to symbolize in many people's eyes the excesses and corruption of the ruling elite.

President Xi Jinping has called for a crackdown on graft and has warned that the problem could threaten the party's survival, though only a small number of senior officials have been fired or investigated for corruption since Xi came to power last year.

A total of 10 government officials and heads of state-owned enterprises were fired in January for their involvement in sex videos, Xinhua said.

They include county- and district-level officials and the heads of state-owned firms in Chongqing, the power-base of now-disgraced former top leader Bo Xilai, who was sacked last year amid allegations of corruption and murder.

(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Robert Birsel)