CHU MEI-FENG, 35, a Taiwanese television reporter-turned-politician, has become one of the best known women in the Chinese-speaking world after a tabloid magazine gave away video discs showing her having sex with a married man.
Yesterday, prosecutors charged the man involved, a former mayor, with invading her privacy in collusion with one of Ms Chu’s closest friends, Kuo Yu-ling, by secretly filming her making love in what has become Taiwan’s most gripping sex scandal. Prosecutors - who also found eavesdropping devices and surveillance cameras in Ms Chu’s car and office - called for Tsai Jen-chien, 49, the former mayor of the northern high-tech city of Hsinchu, to be jailed for a year.
The editor of Scoop, the magazine that gave away the video discs, was also indicted.
"Kuo Yu-ling and Tsai Jen-chien were [Ms Chu’s] most trusted friend and her lover. But they monitored her most private love life after their relations soured," the prosecutor, Chen Hon-da, said. "It’s the most serious offence against privacy."
Mr Tsai, a member of President Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party, lost last December’s mayoral elections. His affair with Ms Chu, of the tiny pro-reunification New Party, had been the talk of town. They once had been touted as the "golden boy and jade girl" of Taiwan politics.
Mr Chen said at a news conference, broadcast live by several cable news networks, that the friend, Ms Kuo, 44, had installed the hidden camera with Mr Tsai’s help.
The prosecutor said Ms Kuo needed money to send her daughter to school abroad and sold the footage to a tabloid magazine, which mass-produced the videos and gave them away free to readers.
Ms Kuo was charged with violating the privacy law, undermining public morality, theft and forgery, while Scoop magazine’s president, Shen Yeh, was charged with violating the privacy law.
Undistributed copies of the discs were seized, which the Chinese-language weekly called "preposterous", arguing they were not pornography but a move to "restore the face of the truth".
Pirated discs have been widely circulated in Taiwan, China and the United States. Ms Chu has not denied that she was the woman in the footage and has apologised to the public.
A new book by Ms Chu, published on Tuesday, reveals her relationships with 14 men. The cover shows her cutting off her hair.
The Confessions of Chu Mei-feng describes in detail the trauma she faced after the video discs hit the streets. "For those of you who had read my diary or seen my body, I want you to read what my heart has to say," she wrote.
The Confessions details her relationships with six boyfriends - a married man, Tseng Chung-ming; a former classmate, Chou Chih-wei; Tsai; a news reporter, Shao Li-chung; and two businessmen, Wang Cheng-ping and Tsai Chao-lun.
The former Taipei city councillor also mentions eight other prominent Taiwanese men with whom she has had encounters, but gave no other details.
"I still cherish hopes for true love," Ms Chu maintains in the book. "I hope I can still fall in love again. I want to build a stable relationship and family, where my heart can belong."