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Suspected Spies May Have Sold F-16 Data

May 21, 1987

TOKYO (AP) _ Four suspected spies may have sold data on the U.S. F-16 fighter plane to Soviet and Chinese buyers, a newspaper reported today.

The Yomiuri Shimbun quoted Tokyo Metropolitan Police officials as saying information on the sophisticated jet was among material seized at the home of one of the suspected spies, an employee at a U.S. military base. He was arrested Tuesday along with three other suspects, all Japanese.

The four men allegedly received more than $714,000 for U.S. military documents they sold to Chinese and Soviet buyers over several years, police said.

Police officials said they could neither confirm nor deny the Yomiuri report.

U.S. military officials, who said Wednesday they were assessing the damage from the sales, were not immediately available for comment. The officials so far have refused to comment on the nature of the documents.

The Yomiuri report said Hiroshi Osumi, 65, an employee in the technical library of the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, obtained documents on the F-16s by placing special orders through the U.S. Fifth Air Force headquarters in Japan.

The newspaper said Osumi could not routinely obtain the information through his job, which mainly dealt with U.S. transport planes, so he applied for and received special permission to get the documents. The data found in Osumi’s home concerned the computer control systems and missiles of the plane, the paper said.

A Soviet Embassy official on Wednesday denied the espionage charges and said the Soviet officials allegedly involved in the purchase of information had returned to Moscow.

The four suspected spies also allegedly sold documents to Chinese buyers, possibly from the Beijing government, according to police. But they said details were available only on the Soviet transactions.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman said Wednesday he did not know whether any of the four suspects had contacts with Chinese officials.

Update hourly