LOS ANGELES (CN) – Zhang Ziyi, star of the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” sued the China Free Press of North Carolina in Federal Court on Thursday for publishing a story that said she earned $100 million working as a prostitute for Chinese government officials.
The 33-year-old star’s complaint in the Central District of California comes one day after she sued Next Media in the high court of Hong Kong over similar claims published in Apple Daily and Next Magazine.
In May, Apple Daily reported that Ziyi had slept with ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai and other government officials, according to the Guardian in London.
Ziyi’s latest lawsuit, filed Thursday, says the Free Press’s internet newspaper Boxun News painted her as a prostitute in three articles that ran in late May and early June.
The articles also falsely claimed that Ziyi was under investigation and had been banned from leaving mainland China, according to the complaint. Boxun had also threatened to publish more salacious stories if Ziyi denied these claims, the actress added.
“Defendants never contacted plaintiff before publishing the libelous statements,” the 14-page complaint states. “Furthermore, defendants never revealed the source of any of the libelous statements about plaintiff. Instead, the articles were published anonymously and attributed to unnamed sources such as ‘intelligence’ and ‘different sources of information.'”
Ziyi says that other media outlets in Asia and around the world have widely circulated the articles.
She asked China Free Press and Boxun for a retraction and published apology, but it refused, according to the complaint.
Boxun is a community website and blog created and operated by Weican Null Meng of Durham, N.C., who Ziyi also names as a defendant. The site reportedly encourages citizen journalism and anonymously written articles. In early 2011, Chinese authorities blocked Boxun from mainland China for publishing posts in support of pro democracy protests.
The California lawsuit seeks punitive damages and an injunction against China Free Press, Boxun News and Meng under his aliases Watson Meng and Wican ‘Watson’ Meng.
Ziyi alleges libel per se, false light invasion of privacy, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and unlawful business practices. She is represented by John Mason with Howard Avchen & Shapiro
Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which made Ziyi a star in the West, became the highest-grossing foreign-language film in U.S. history, raking in $128 million at American box offices in 2000.
The Golden Globe-nominated actress also starred in “Rush Hour 2,” “House of Flying Daggers” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
Neither Ziyi’s attorney nor representatives for Meng immediately responded to emailed requests for comment before business hours on Friday.