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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 06:05 GMT
Japan 'spy' admits passing secrets
Mr Mori and Mr Putin
The scandal broke after a friendly visit from Russia
A former Japanese naval officer has admitted to a court in Tokyo that he passed defence secrets to a Russian military attache in exchange for money.

Prosecutors say Shigehiro Hagisaki - a Lieutenant Commander before he was handed a dishonourable discharge last month - removed about 170 classified documents over a number of years.

Some allegedly related to warfare tactics, communications, and American naval units in Japan.

Shigehiro Hagisaki: previous meetings with Russian officials
Shigehiro Hagisaki was wined and dined
Mr Hagisaki was said to have met the Russian attache, Captain Victor Bogatenkov, more than 10 times at restaurants in Tokyo, receiving cash in exchange for documents.

The attache claimed diplomatic immunity when confronted by Japanese security officials and left the country after Mr Hagisaki's arrest.

The case, which broke just after the visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tokyo, cast a shadow over relations between the two countries.

The start of the trial on Monday coincides with a visit to Japan by the Russian Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev.

Commander Hagizaki, who broke down and confessed to the authorities when he was arrested, faces a one year prison term or fines of up to $280, (30,000 Yen).

A Japanese defence ministry statement said it was revising laws related to military spying.

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See also:

09 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Russian quits Japan in spy row
08 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan arrests 'Russian spy'
08 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Espionage industry: Alive and kicking
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