Hong Kong entertainer Edison Chen said on Thursday he was quitting show business indefinitely after admitting here that he had taken the photos embarrassing several well-known starlets that had been leaked to the Internet.
The 27-year-old Canadian-born Chinese said he had come back to Hong Kong to "account for himself and to apologize to those involved in or effected by the scandal".
"I would like to apologize to all the ladies involved in the scandal and their families for all their sufferings. I am sorry," the Vancouver native said at a press conference attended by hundreds of media.
Chen said he would leave the Hong Kong entertainment industry indefinitely after fulfilling all existing contracts. He did not give a specific time frame for his withdrawal.
He added he would devote himself to charity work in the coming months.
The photo scandal started with the uploading of hundreds of sexually-explicit photos starting on Jan. 27 featuring Chen and various Hong Kong starlets. The pictures have spread like wildfire on the Internet ever since.
Chen said at the press conference the photos were stolen and distributed without his approval.
"These photos had not been shown to people and were never intended to be shown to anyone," he said.
Hong Kong police were trying to find the first releaser of the photos and had made several arrests in connection with them. Chen allegedly sent his laptop to a repair shop, leading to the leak and on-line circulation of the photos.
Mainland police arrested 10 people suspected of allegedly producing, selling and purchasing discs of nude photos of the Hong Kong star earlier this week.
Three people were given five-day administrative detentions and two others, a 19-year-old man surnamed Jiang and a 27-year-old man surnamed Ma, were under criminal detention. They were still being questioned by police. The other five were released.
In addition, a Beijing Internet self-discipline organization has asked the Chinese Internet search engine Baidu.com to make a public apology for spreading the photos.
The Beijing Internet News Information Review Council, initiated by the government-sponsored Beijing Association of Online Media, issued a statement on Monday criticizing the Nasdaq-listed website's conduct in relation to the photos.
The statement meanwhile praised other big mainland websites, including Sohu.com, Sina.com and Netease. Those sites had called for Internet users "not to download, save and spread the photos" and "to prevent the photos from falling into the hands of children".
A total of 13 on-line portals on the mainland also issued a joint statement asking domestic websites to boycott the nude photos.
It urged netizens and website staff to be self-disciplined and prevent the postings and dissemination of such images by pledging not to download, spread or speculate on the photos.
So far, more than 40 domestic websites have supported the statement and many Chinese netizens have pledged not download or spread the Chen photos.