The Tokyo District Court sentenced a former Softbank BB Corp. employee to a suspended three-year prison term Friday for stealing client data and trying to extort money from the company.

Hiroyuki Kimata, 32, was convicted of stealing information on 900,000 clients of Yahoo! BB, Softbank’s high-speed Internet connection service, while working at its Nagoya branch between May 2002 and June 2003, and later blackmailing the firm for more than 10 million yen.

In handing down the sentence, which was suspended for five years, presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kiguchi said, “The data theft and blackmailing greatly shocked those involved with Softbank BB and was a considerable annoyance to its clients and clients of similar businesses.”

During his first trial session in April, Kimata denied the accusations, claiming he “only wanted a big firm to respond to him,” as he had no friends and felt isolated from society.

His lawyer claimed Kimata had no real intention of extorting money from Softbank BB, noting that he did not pick up the money at JR Nagoya Station, which had been designated as the drop point.

The lawyer also said Kimata was being treated for a panic disorder and depression and was on medication to control the symptoms.

But the judge rejected the defense, saying that Kimata’s intention to blackmail the firm was clear and that he initially tried to sell the data in June 2003 to a firm that buys listings and company directories.

Kimata began sending threatening e-mails to Softbank BB in January and February this year only after he failed to sell the information, the judge said.

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