Russia detains Japanese consul on espionage charges; Tokyo hints at retaliation

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MOSCOW/TOKYO, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Russia’s FSB security agency said on Monday it had detained a Japanese consul in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok on suspicion of espionage and charged him with espionage. ordered him to leave the country.

The consul was released after being detained by a Russian agency for hours. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a media briefing on Tuesday that Tokyo had lodged a “strong protest” over the detention and suggested retaliation was possible.

Consul Motoki Tatsunori was declared persona non grata after he was caught “on the spot” receiving secret information about the impact of Western sanctions on the economic situation in Russia’s Far East, the FSB said.

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The classified information also involved Russia’s cooperation with an unnamed Asia-Pacific country in exchange for “monetary incentives,” it said.

It said Moscow had protested to Tokyo through diplomatic channels over the consul’s actions.

Japan’s top government spokesman, Matsuno, said Moscow’s use of “intimidating methods” to detain consuls, blindfold and restrain them “clearly violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”

“The detained consul did not engage in any illegal activities,” Matsuno said, adding that Japan’s deputy foreign minister told the Russian ambassador to Japan that Tokyo “needs to take the same measures” and demanded a formal apology from Moscow.

Matsuno said the freed consul was in good health and would leave Russia on Wednesday.

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Reporting by Reuters, Kantaro Komiya in Tokyo; Editing by Nick Macfie, Gerry Doyle and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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