A former SoftBank Corp. employee who has been arrested for allegedly taking proprietary information from the major Japanese phone carrier was aware that he might be providing it to Russian spies, investigative sources said Sunday.
Yutaka Araki, 48, was arrested Saturday by Tokyo police on suspicion of obtaining the information from a computer server at SoftBank on Feb. 18 last year, in violation of Japan's unfair competition prevention law.
The police believe he provided SoftBank corporate secrets multiple times to two officials at Russia's trade representative in Tokyo in exchange for hundreds of thousands of yen and that the two were engaging in espionage activities.
"I had thought that they might be spies," one of the sources quoted Araki, who was fired by SoftBank in mid-December, as saying.
Araki was first approached by the Russian official in his 40s several years ago and is believed to have been treated to wining and dining, in addition to receiving cash from him, the sources said.
The official, who returned to Russia in 2017, and his successor with diplomatic status in his 50s had specifically requested what information they wanted from him, the sources said.
The officials are believed to be members of Russia'sForeign Intelligence Service.
The unit of SoftBank Group Corp. said Saturday the information stolen was related to manuals for mobile phone base stations and other communications facilities.
The officials did not disclose to Araki, a former executive at the company's mobile information technology promoting department, that they were from Russia's trade mission, the sources said.
The way of approaching him "accidentally on purpose" is a typical technique used by Russian spies, they said.
Through Japan'sForeign Ministry, the police have requested that the Russian Embassy present the two officials for questioning.
© Kyodo News International, Inc., source Newswire