Authorities in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing are closing in on a source who leaked a sex tape featuring a local Communist Party official, according to the investigative journalist who published it online.
Beijing-based Zhu Ruifeng, who runs the whistle-blowing website Supervision by the People, published a five-year-old video showing Lei Zhengfu having sex with an 18-year-old female while he was Party secretary of Chongqing's Beibei district.
The tape was one of several held in the Chongqing police department vaults and was leaked by an insider.
Chongqing police visited that person's home to detain him last Tuesday, Zhu said, adding that the source is currently in hiding.
"Two Chongqing police officers went [to his home]," Zhu said on Wednesday. "They were from the municipality and the county level, working together."
"They had nine officers and four vehicles with them, and they wanted to carry out an arrest across provincial lines," said Zhu, who says he has similar videos of five more high-ranking Chongqing officials.
"My source has already absconded, and I can't get in touch with him," he said, adding that a second insider had also gone incommunicado, prompting him to speak out of fears for their safety.
"I can't get in touch with the other source either, who is in Chongqing," Zhu said. "Perhaps he's gone into hiding, or perhaps he is already being detained by the authorities."
"I am very worried."
Lei was removed from his post after the 36-second video clip went viral online, sparking widespread outrage on China's popular microblogs.
Zhu has said the woman was described to him as a "gift" sent to Lei by a businessman in the construction industry who wanted to seal a lucrative property deal.
Zhu said last week that he had received death threats after the video was posted online, and that the Beijing police were currently investigating.
"The Chongqing authorities have organized a lot of people to write commentary online, to attack me and slander me," he said. "They say I have never been a proper journalist."
"They are also saying that I have taken money from this person or that person ... but this is a lie."
He said he now plans to write an open letter to Chongqing municipal Party secretary Sun Zhengcai, who replaced fallen political star Bo Xilai, calling on the authorities to guarantee the rights of the whistle-blowers.
The Chongqing sex tapes were made by a property developer as a way of blackmailing top municipal officials.
The company paid young women aged 18-20 U.S. $48 to have sex with the officials and to record the liaisons secretly.
An employee who answered the phone at the Chongqing municipal police department declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Wednesday.
"I don't know about this," the employee said.
Zhu began working as a print journalist for the magazine Fang Yuan, which is sponsored by China's Supreme People's Court, in 2000, before leaving to set up as a freelance in 2006.
Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.