Russia arrests Japanese consul for espionage; Tokyo hints at revenge

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MOSCOW/TOkyo (Reuters) – Russia’s Federal Security Agency said on Monday it had detained a Japanese consul in the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok on suspicion of espionage and ordered him to leave the country.

The consul was released a few hours after his arrest by the Russian Agency. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news briefing on Tuesday that Tokyo had lodged a “strong protest” over the arrest and indicated it might retaliate.

The FSB said the consul, Motoki Tatsunori, was declared persona non grata after he was caught “red-handed” receiving classified information about the effects of Western sanctions on the economic situation in Russia’s Far East.

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She said the classified information, which also related to Russia’s cooperation with an unnamed country in the Asia-Pacific, was obtained for a “financial reward”.

She added that Moscow protested to Tokyo about the actions of the consul through diplomatic channels.

Japanese government spokesman Matsuno said Moscow detained, blindfolded and handcuffed the consul “in a frightening manner”, which is “a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”.

“The detained consul was not engaged in any illegal activity,” Matsuno said, adding that the Japanese deputy foreign minister had told the Russian ambassador to Japan that Tokyo “needed to take similar steps” and demanded Moscow an official apology.

Matsuno said the released consul had no health problems and would leave Russia by Wednesday.

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Reuters reported, Kantaro Komiya in Tokyo; Editing by Nick McPhee, Jerry Doyle and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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