HONG KONG Gillian Chung, one of several prominent Hong Kong stars caught up in a nude photo scandal, said on Monday she was naive and apologized for the incident that has sparked arrests and a media frenzy.
Chung, 27, previously known for her squeaky-clean image, made her eagerly awaited statement before a mass of reporters and video cameras flanked by Charlene Choi, her singing partner in the female pop duo "Twins".
"I admit that I was naive and very silly, but I've grown up now," Chung said, without explicitly saying she was in the photos.
"I want to thank my company, family and friends for their concern," she said in her first public comments since the nude images trickled onto the Internet a fortnight ago.
The photographs, which appear to show Chung naked in bed with male star Edison Chen, and suggestive images purportedly of around half a dozen other celebrities, including actress Cecilia Cheung, were recently posted online, provoking blanket tabloid coverage in the celebrity-mad former British colony.
Edison Chen, 27, apologized last week in a video statement, and called the postings of the photographs "intentionally hurtful and malicious".
Hong Kong police said some 1,300 private shots of celebrities had been stolen from a faulty personal computer, which local media have reported belonged to Chen.
A police investigation across the territory has so far led to eight arrests for infringement of obscene material laws, and the seizure of over 1,000 images.
"As for the influence this incident has had on society, I apologize. In the coming days I will continue to focus on my work and face up to my life," Chung added, amid cheers from her fans.
Emperor Entertainment Group, which manages Chung, had initially said in a statement that the photographs were digitally altered fakes.
Hong Kong's police commissioner, Tang King-shing, earlier warned that possession and distribution of such images might be illegal. Several hundred Internet users held a protest march on Sunday, saying the police's handling of the case was a violation of rights and that the celebrities were receiving privileged treatment.
(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Alex Richardson)