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Japanese Nabbed for Industrial Spying - One Still At Large


Omnipotence personified
15 Mar 2003
From Mainichi Daily News

Two Japanese medical researchers who stole genetic materials on Alzheimer's disease and took them back to Japan were charged in the United States Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.

If convicted Okamoto could face up to 15 years in prison as the ringleader and Serizawa up to five years as an accomplice. The Federal Bureau of Investigations took Serizawa into custody on the same day while Okamoto has been ordered to stand by at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research headquarters in Wako, Saitama Prefecture

Okamoto stole genetic materials on Alzheimer's disease, including deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and cell strain, from a research institute of Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) in July 1999, shortly before he quit the institute to join the Japanese institute, prosecutors said.

From the AP

A Japanese court rejected a request Monday to extradite a medical researcher to the United States on charges of industrial espionage, the first time a court here has turned down an extradition sought by American authorities.

The Japanese Justice Ministry said it was the first time that Japan has denied a U.S. extradition request. Japan has extradited eight people to the United States on previous occasions.

Tokyo prosecutors took Okamoto into custody last month after Nozawa ordered them to start extradition proceedings. Court hearings began earlier this month.

Japan and the United States have an extradition treaty, but Tokyo only sends its citizens to face charges abroad if they have been accused of acts that are also illegal in Japan.

While Japan doesn't have any economic espionage laws, the Justice Ministry had argued that Okamoto's acts constituted theft and destruction of property under Japanese law.

It was not clear if the ministry would act further on the U.S. request. Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa said he "solemnly" accepted Monday's decision.

Witness the Battle of Ministry Titans! In this corner, in black robes, the MOJ (Ministry of Justice)! And the challenger, in multicolor trunks, MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology). Lets get rrrrready to rrrrrumbleeeee!!!

The lab that the two work for in Japan is under the auspicies of MEXT. It seems from the news article that MOJ is keen on getting Okamoto extradited. Both are powerful ministries in the Japanese government. From the TV news it seems the independent lawyers think MOJ shoudn't send Okamoto to the US.

Who will win?! Who can pull more weight with patronage and public opinion! Will the rule of law be the ultimate victim? Tune in later on pay-per-view, only $29.99! Order now!

PS - If you want to be an industrial spy, come to Japan! None of the dangers of real espionage and possibly a better pay-off too.
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