Skip to comments.U.S. concerned over info leak to Russia through Japan diplomat
Posted on 05/18/2002 1:53:25 AM PDT by Vigilant1
TOKYO, May 18, Kyodo -
The United States is concerned about possible leaks of U.S. information to Russia through Masaru Sato, a Russian affairs expert at the Foreign Ministry arrested Tuesday, diplomatic sources said Saturday.
The U.S. government has strong concerns because Sato allegedly delivered top-secret official telegrams regularly to scandal-tainted lawmaker Muneo Suzuki even after he left a key government post, the sources said.
Sato was in a position to see a broad range of information from Japanese diplomatic missions abroad since July 1998 when he assumed a post at the Intelligence and Analysis Bureau, taking charge of top-secret official telegrams. They included information on Japan-Russia relations and U.S. security policies.
When he visited Russia, he also frequently had contact with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and the Russian intelligence service SVR. He is also known to have contact with Russian intelligence officers in Tokyo, the sources said.
From July 1998, when Suzuki became a deputy chief cabinet secretary, Sato began delivering classified telegrams to Suzuki directly or through the lawmaker's secretaries, according to the sources.
Suzuki read the telegrams as part of his duty as he was in charge of Russian diplomacy and the four groups of Russian-held islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan.
But Sato continued passing secret official telegrams on to him even after Suzuki left the deputy chief cabinet secretary post in September 1999.
It is not allowed for a lawmaker to see such top-secret telegrams or their copies without taking steps to lift the confidentiality designation of such telegrams but Sato failed to take such steps, the sources said.
Suzuki is suspected of strengthening his influence over the ministry's policies toward Russia by using the information in the classified telegrams he got from Sato, the sources said.
The U.S. is concerned about the possibility its information was passed to the Russian intelligence service through Sato and has strong interest in learning what information Sato obtained and passed to Suzuki.
U.S. officials have been displeased by Sato's frequent contact with the Russian intelligent agency, the sources said.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested Sato, 42, and Akira Maejima, 37, the assistant director of the ministry's Oceanian Division, on suspicion of using more than 33 million yen in funds earmarked for an international aid panel for Russia to pay for a trip to Israel.
Suzuki, now an independent member of the House of representatives, resigned from the LDP in March, saying he does not want to cause trouble for the ruling party because of allegations that he meddled in Foreign Ministry affairs.