Japan Arrests Former Softbank Employee for Spying on Behalf of Russia

A former employee of Japanese multinational conglomerate SoftBank was arrested for allegedly stealing proprietary information from the holding’s telecom firm and giving it to Russian officials, the Japan Times reported Sunday.

Yutaka Araki, 48, is suspected of obtaining “trade secrets from a computer server at a telecommunication-related company on February 18 last year, in violation of Japan’s unfair competition prevention law,” Tokyo police said in a statement.

Authorities did not identify the firm, but local media said it was major mobile carrier SoftBank Corp, a unit of the SoftBank Group. Police suspect Russian trade officials at Moscow’s mission in Tokyo were involved in espionage, Jiji Press and other local media reported.

The reports added that the police have asked the Russian embassy to present two officials to the authorities. In a statement on its verified Facebook page, the Russian embassy described the media reports as “regrettable” and “cheap spy allegations”.

SoftBank said in a statement that it is cooperating with the investigation and that “no information that is highly confidential – such as customers’ personal information or anything that violates the secrecy of communication” was compromised.

Last week, Bulgaria accused two men based at the Russian embassy in Sofia of spying and ordered to leave the country. According to the Bulgarian government, the consular first secretary and an official at Russia’s trade representation collected “state secrets in order to transfer it to a foreign state or organization”.

The first secretary collected information on elections from 2017, while the trade official gathered sensitive information on the energy sector and energy security from October 2018, they said.

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