Written by Staff Writer, CNN
Peng Shuai, the Chinese player whose case has gripped the world of tennis, returned home to Shanghai Thursday after two months in New York, but she could face further questions about a possible leaked email.
The Chinese player first spoke to CNN in March about the disappearance of her right hand, which at one point looked as if it may have been amputated.
Peng Shuai posing with her missing right hand before the French Open in Paris
The 31-year-old said her father, a doctor, sent her emails concerning her health that “may have been connected to the case,” and suggested she may have disappeared.
In one of them, according to Peng, she used the laptop of a Hong Kong friend to try to contact a source in Dalian, China, who helped her with drug treatment.
While those issues are separate from her return home — which was announced by the China Tennis Association and the National Olympic Committee on Friday — allegations have been made that the emails were stolen.
Peng Shuai during a news conference after her first round match against Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
“I don’t know whether the emails were stolen or not,” Peng said Thursday. “But I think many other athletes in China use these same personal emails and I think if they have actually taken those email, well that’s, no kidding, it’s stealing,” she added.
“But in the meantime, I really think that this email is, yeah, it’s full of accusations, it’s full of a little bit of blackmail or invasion of privacy. So I will not answer too much, but I think we should use the law as well. So, I think, yeah, if anyone has something to say, let’s speak to law enforcement authorities, and we will follow the law.”
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But the Hong Kong woman implicated in the leak by Peng has come forward, telling South China Morning Post that she never sent emails.
Peng Shuai’s father at her press conference in China in March
The source, identified only as Annie, said she emailed “only one time to Pu,” the court has been told.
“I did not send any e-mails to Pu or anybody for that matter,” she told the South China Morning Post.
Her lawyer has said she is ready to give evidence in the case.
Chinese judicial officials have previously said there is no evidence that Peng’s body was mutilated or removed from its roots.
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CNN cannot independently verify that the emails were or were not stolen.
However, two witnesses said to be close to the investigation said the emails were stolen, according to the South China Morning Post.
The investigators have said they believed some of the emails were stolen from a Hong Kong IT outsourcing company where some may have come from. The company has denied any allegations it stole them.
Peng appeared at Shanghai customs on May 10 and had been supposed to return on May 22, but was put on a flight to New York on May 9, before reporting to the US embassy the next day.
Her return made headlines in China after the country took on a reluctant role of supporter.