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Suspect in Japanese online threat case pleads innocent

Kyodo

A 30-year-old man arrested for allegedly making online threats through hijacked personal computers told the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday he was not involved in the high-profile case.

“I have nothing to do with the case,” Yusuke Katayama told a session in which the court explained the reason for his detention.

The threats — including one to attack a kindergarten and another to engage in mass murder — caused four users of hijacked PCs to be wrongly arrested between July and September.

Responding to his lawyers’ questions, Katayama said the computer virus for remotely controlling PCs was written in a programming language he cannot use.

Asked what he wanted to say to the judge, Katayama responded, “I’m not the culprit.”

The defense counsel told the court that Katayama was wrongfully arrested and sought his early release, while two prosecutors did not express opinions.

Explaining the reason for his detention, Judge Sumie Iwata said investigation records show probable cause that Katayama committed the crime.

An unknown person sent an e-mail message to some reporters in January claiming responsibility for the online threats.

In the message, the sender asked recipients to solve an “additional puzzle” and that a recording medium containing a virus that can remotely control computers had been attached to the collar of a cat in Enoshima, a small island in Kanagawa Prefecture popular with tourists.

Katayama, who works at an information technology company, was arrested Feb. 10 for allegedly posting a threat online last August stating that mass murder would take place at a manga event. He has been charged with forcible obstruction of business.

Investigators said a security camera on the island captured images of a man who looked like him approaching a cat that had a collar.

At the court Tuesday, however, Katayama said he “had just played with the cat.”