Actor Zhang Ziyi settles US libel case

‘Crouching Tiger’ actor sued website Boxun over reports she was paid to have sex with officials

Ziyi Zhang: “The law has brought back justice and my good name.” Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Ziyi Zhang: “The law has brought back justice and my good name.” Photograph: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 01:00

Top Chinese actor Zhang Ziyi has reached an undisclosed settlement with the US-based dissident news website Boxun that she sued for libel after it published reports that she was paid to have sex with senior government officials.

“The law has brought back justice and my good name. Remember, rumourmongers, persisting in evil brings about self-destruction,” the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Memoirs of a Geisha star posted on her Sina Weibo microblog.

Boxun News retracted its “negative and untrue” reports that began in May 2012 in an apology displayed on its English-language site yesterday.

Boxun ran a story in May last year accusing Ms Zhang (34) of making at least 700 million yuan (€83.7 million) by working as a high-class courtesan, sleeping with high-ranking officials and wealthy businessmen in China over an 11-year period, including the disgraced senior leader Bo Xilai and his ally Xu Ming.

“These false reports about Zhang Ziyi should never have been published. As a result, Boxun News now renders its unreserved apology to Zhang Ziyi, has removed the entire series of articles about Zhang Ziyi from the Boxun News website, and issues this formal retraction,” ran a message on Boxun. The website regularly reports on human rights violations and political intrigue in China, and is blocked there.

The defendants initially argued their reports were protected by the first amendment of the US constitution that covers free speech.

Ms Zhang also disputed Boxun’s allegation that she was working on behalf of the Chinese government to damage the website’s reputation.

On her Weibo site, Ms Zhang wrote that those responsible for “spreading rumours ­ will eventually be punished”.

Los Angeles court documents said she had suffered approximately $250,000 (€181,500) in specific damages, in addition to general damages for injury to her reputation, and that she also sought punitive damages.