Upskirt and clandestine photo-taking are no longer news nowadays. But when a pervert was caught taking sneak shots of a young lady in a packed subway train in the western Chinese city of Chengdu, the case went viral after the offender was found to be a photographer with the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

When the middle-aged suspect thought no one would detect him as he furtively lowered his phone under the skirt of the victim, who was standing next to him busily typing on her own phone, the upskirting was already caught on the camera. He took multiple photos of the victim, as seen in a video clip likely filmed by other passengers and used as evidence during a police investigation.

Upskirting caught on camera. Photos: Weibo

The man, surnamed Chang, was subsequently arrested last Saturday, detained for seven days and fined around 500 yuan (US$72) for outraging public decency.

Yet a doxxing operation by some netizens in the city who were still not blasé about such voyeuristic behavior found that Chang was indeed a former photographer with the local branch of Xinhua, and now worked as an official with the news agency.

Chinese papers reported on Monday that the offender was a employee of China Economic Information Service, a Xinhua subsidiary, but had already been fired amid the outrage. The organization said upskirting was a “hideous invasion of privacy leaving victims feeling degraded and distressed”.

More similar cases in China have gone unreported and if one catches a criminal upskirting an individual and informs the authorities, the police may just request the images to be deleted, with no prosecution.

Earlier this year, a TV commentator who noted that ladies should avoid wearing short skirts that could barely cover their underwear stirred much public indignation.

There have long been calls to introduce new legislation to criminalize taking sexually intrusive photographs up someone’s skirt, but until now upskirting is not a specific offense under the Chinese law. Thus the charge in this case: “outraging public decency.”