A British investigator formerly hired by scandal-hit pharmaceutical giant GSK and his American wife went on trial in China on Friday accused of breaching privacy laws, a court said.
Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng were hired to investigate the source of a lurid sex tape of the China boss of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), shortly before the British firm became embroiled in bribery allegations.
"The trial has begun, the defendants have been summoned to the court," the Shanghai Number One Intermediate Court said on a verified social media account.
It added that at least one translator and three defence lawyers were in court.
The case has raised concerns amongst foreign investors in China, who often hire independent investigators to conduct due-diligence investigations into Chinese companies.
Prosecutors told China's official Xinhua news agency that the couple illegally sold personal information to multinational corporations, including GSK.
Chinese authorities are investigating several foreign pharmaceutical firms over pricing and other issues.
GSK has been accused of systemic corruption, and police in May announced the arrest of its former China boss Mark Reilly on charges that he ordered employees to commit bribery.
China's healthcare sector is widely considered to be riddled with graft, partly the result of an opaque tendering system for drugs and doctors' low salaries.
Humphrey, a former journalist and longtime China resident who founded an investigative firm, ChinaWhys, was reportedly hired by GSK to look into the origin of a covertly filmed video of Reilly and a girlfriend.
Humphrey was detained alongside his wife, who worked as ChinaWhys' general manager.
The couple's connection with GSK was not mentioned by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) when it paraded the duo in prison suits and aired a televised "confession" by an unshaven Humphrey.