A recently arrested Chinese researcher at Japan's national institute of industrial technology has denied allegations he leaked confidential data to a Chinese firm, investigative sources said Friday.

Quan Hengdao, 59, sent an email containing data on fluorine compounds to the Chinese firm but said the contents "did not constitute trade secrets," according to the sources.

The suspect played a central role on a research team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Ibaraki Prefecture, they said.

Quan, who was sent to prosecutors on Friday, is said to have had privileges to handle data at the institute.

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating whether Quan received any reward from the Chinese firm and how the institute managed its data.

Quan was arrested Thursday for allegedly emailing the data on April 13, 2018, to a Chinese company in violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.

Fluorine compounds are used as insulating gas and employed as an insulator in electrical equipment such as transformers.

The suspect also taught at the Beijing Institute of Technology, which is believed to have links to China's military.