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An email sent to media outlets by someone claiming to be “the real culprit” in the cyberriddler case is likely a prank, sources say.

“Yusuke Katayama denied sending the email, and I think it was a prank,” Hiroshi Sato, the lawyer representing the suspect in the high-profile case, said Monday.

Katayama himself earlier allegedly attempted to deceive investigators and his own attorneys by sending an email from his smartphone using a delay timer. The message said “the real culprit” was at large while Katayama was in the courtroom.

Sato said he spoke with Katayama, who is in detention, on Monday morning about the latest email, which was sent Sunday. Katayama, 32, said he neither sent the email, with a timing device or otherwise, nor did he ask a third party to send it, Sato said.

The IT specialist is on trial for hacking people’s computers in 2012 to send threats from them. Katayama, arrested in February last year, initially denied the accusations and was released on ¥10 million bail this March.

However, on May 20 he admitted guilt to Sato after police found he had sent a deceptive timed email on May 16. The Tokyo District Court revoked his bail and he was re-arrested on May 20.

On Sunday, 25 recipients received another anonymous email from a sender claiming to be the true perpetrator and stating that Katayama was not the culprit.

Lawyer Yoji Ochiai, one of the recipients, believes the new message is likely a prank. It was probably sent by an individual who had access to the earlier message allegedly sent by Katayama and copied the recipients’ addresses.

Sunday’s recipients were the same, Ochiai said on Monday.

“One of the 25 addresses was wrong in the e-mail I received on May 16 allegedly sent by Katayama,” Ochiai said. “The latest email, which I received Sunday, committed the same mistake. . . . If it was sent by the ‘real culprit,’ I assume (he or she) wouldn’t make such a mistake.”

The sender used the name Juzo Abe, according to a description of the email by Ochiai on his blog.

” ‘It was me who encouraged Katayama to make an about-face on pleading innocent by putting up (the deception) himself. I obtained Katayama’s private information and I threatened him to obey, or I would release this information,’ ” Ochiai quoted the message as saying on his blog.

In Sunday’s message, the sender claimed to have given Katayama instructions via an agent, who gave Katayama the URL of a temporary website that contained directions for Katayama to follow.

“I decided to reveal all this as I feel sorry for making Katayama suffer further,” the message said.

Information from Kyodo added