WASHINGTON – The U.S. expressed regret Monday that a court rejected its demand for extradition of a medical researcher accused in a U.S. industrial espionage case.
“We regret that the Tokyo High Court denied our request for extradition,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Sierra told Kyodo News.
“The indictment against Mr. (Takashi) Okamoto stands and the arrest warrant remains in place,” Sierra said, indicating he will be arrested if he visits the U.S.
But another department official said that with the Japanese decision, the U.S. has to give up efforts to seek Okamoto’s extradition.
“We could seek other avenues, but generally, it’s pretty much over when the country in which the defendant is residing refuses to extradite,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The Tokyo High Court decided Monday against extraditing Okamoto, 43, a former researcher at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio who is charged in the U.S. with industrial espionage.
The court’s judgment is final because Japanese prosecutors, who asked it to decide on the extradition request, cannot appeal the ruling under the current legal system.
Okamoto was charged with industrial espionage in Ohio in May 2001 for allegedly stealing genetic materials on Alzheimer’s disease from the institute in July 1999 and for interstate transport of the stolen items as well as conspiracy in connection with the offense. He has denied the charges.
Following Monday’s high court decision and his release from the Tokyo Detention House, Okamoto returned to his workplace in Tanno, northern Hokkaido.