Zhang Ziyi is sharpening her legal daggers.
The Beijing-born actress sued the U.S.-based China Free Press for libel last week over a story that she carried on sexual relationships with a number of high-ranking Chinese officials in exchange for roughly $100 million over the last 10 years—a story that she has vehemently denied.
Ziyi's attorney, John Mason, exclusively tells E! News that his client was never approached for comment before the report suggesting that she was a six-figure prostitute was published.
"Zhang Ziyi is not a prostitute, never has been a prostitute, never met this person that she's alleged to have this very expensive sexual relationship with," Mason says.
The story "flew around the world on the Internet to the point that it seriously damaged her reputation and business, and she intends to defend herself," he adds. "No matter what it takes and no matter what it costs, we really do intend to bring these people into court and find out why they published what they did and where this information came from. From our side, we can't put this genie back in the bottle, but we can definitely get to the bottom of where the bottle came from."
The original story linked Ziyi most prominently to former Chonqing party head Bo Xilai, who was booted from his position earlier this year in connection with an unrelated scandal.
"They don't even have a photograph or a statement from anybody that she ever met him," says Mason. "People put stories out there often enough just to get attention, just to get more readers...This is outrageous in its face in the way it was intended to damage her career. You don't call somebody a prostitute and allege multimillion-dollar sex acts without having some evidence."
China Free Press has stood by its reporting, saying the paper "merely published what it believed to be true as provided by an anonymous source."
Ziyi, who according to Mason was refused the retraction she originally sought, is seeking punitive and general damages.
Her lawsuit, filed June 14 in U.S. District Court in California, alleges libel, false light invasion of privacy, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage and unlawful business practices.