Police False Arrests in Remote Control Virus Case Criticized

A news reporter explains the third false arrest due to iesys.exe

A 28-year-old man from Fukuoka recently found himself at the centre of a police investigation and intense media attention for a crime he was not involved in at all. After being taken into custody for suspected cyber crime, the police eventually realised that a serious error had been made, and the suspect became a victim.

In recent weeks, four innocent Japanese citizens have been arrested for making ‘false’ threat emails to schools, lawyers, celebrities, and even television stations. It later transpired that this was all the consequence of a computer virus, known as iesys.exe, that could remotely control infected computers, including secretly turning on a victim’s webcam and see whatever the victim is doing. The virus has spread through popular internet boards, such as 2channel.

Although in this case the police admitted that they were at fault, and that they forced a confession out of the 28-year-old Fukuoka resident, the investigation has now moved to Europe, where the server was apparently located, for further investigation regarding the unidentified culprit.

From Yahoo Japan:

Remotely-controlled Computer Virus: E-mails Sent Through Various Countries Confessing To Crime, Police Investigation Moves to Europe.

In an incident regarding online threats sent from personal computers infected with a remote-controllable virus on October 21, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department apologised to a 28-year-old man from Fukuoka who was wrongfully arrested for a threat sent to a kindergarten. On the same day, the prefectural police department of Osaka also apologised to Masaki Kitamura, a 43-year-old animation producer arrested on a charge of conspiring to obstruct the operation of business for a death threat that appeared on a public website run by Osaka city.

Hiro Kawahara, official at the Criminal Investigation Bureau of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and two other executives of the MPD, visited the house of the man in Fukuoka at around 2pm on the same afternoon and admitted that his arrest was wrong. “We are very sorry for causing a great deal of trouble to you,” the police officials told the man. The man told the officials that he wants the police to arrest the true culprit by all means, according to Kawahara. The MPD promised to make all-out efforts.

Kawahara also assured the public that the police will examine thoroughly their own investigation, since a statement of guilt was obtained from the man, and the MPD failed to investigate whether or not their computers might be infected by a virus, or under what circumstances these emails were sent.

According to someone involved in the investigation, when re-interviewed the man explained that he thought the woman he was living with had send the e-mails, and his statement had been based on false claims in order to protect her. On August 26, the day before the e-mail had been sent, the man told police he had downloaded free software from the Japanese textboard 2channel. The police department are looking at whether this was when his PC became infected with the virus.

The man was arrested on a charge of forcible obstruction of business for sending an e-mail threat to a kindergarten in Tokyo on the September 1, and on September 21 was arrested on the same charge for an e-mail sent to an entertainment agency. Questions regarding virus infection began to surface, and the man was released on September 27. Soon afterward, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to indict the man.

Also on Sunday afternoon, two senior officials of the prefectural police department of Osaka met with Kitamura and his family at a police station in the western Japan prefecture and offered an apology for his wrongful arrest.

Comments from Yahoo!News.co.jp (1) and (2)

NAKA-G(yg_…)さん:

Apologies? Ha, not enough! If after this he has problems with his life because of it, compensate him!

ake1(ake…)さん:

Whoa, these arrests were luckily concluded as mistaken but just imagine there would be more cases like this? Scary stuff! Can’t believe the police have tortured these guys to confess the “screenplay” written by the police…

阿井上男(foo…)さん:

They’d better make their investigation process transparent!

azu**_903*8(azu…)さん:

It’s a terrible incident when in the Heisei era the police are forcing confessions. They need to resolve this matter immediately, but I want them to reconsider the investigation, I also want them to strengthen their resistance to cyber crime.

sk**de**h_be**re_d**hon(sky…)さん:

How come they still sound arrogant during their apologies argh!

おまんじゅう(gal…)さん:

Aw poor student, get him back to university!

p20*****(p20…)さん:

This anger won’t go away unless the police make their investigations transparent! We all have every right to know how it happened – arresting innocent people and forcing them to confess what they actually didn’t do!

tak*has*i*uo34(tak…)さん:

Apparently the police will pay him 7 billion JPY (5.5 million GBP)? It should be open to everyone – curious to know how our tax is going to be used to make up for the mistake.

aksyfsyfaaf(kya…)さん:

Mind you, the police see us as ‘pushovers’ – keep yourselves silent no matter what they ask you, worth paying whatever it costs to get a great lawyer.

クロスおーなーしっぷ(jdj…)さん:

Better not announce the names at the ‘suspect’ stage. Just imagine being accused of being a ‘chikan [groper]’ when it’s not true! Your life is literally OVER.

dnm*t8*0(dnm…)さん:

What a lovely free trip to Europe. Lucky police!

german sprit(djp…)さん:

What about our taxes if they don’t get any clues even in Europe…?

Fjfjililifjfjffjj(fjf…)さん:

Hmmm, it’d take a lot longer than we first thought…

siat(sia…)さん:

The police are hard-pressed too. But with the technology they have now, I don’t think they can find the culprit. One vote for the guy who said ‘It’ll be a useless journey’

fuk**arul*ve(fuk…)さん:

What’s wrong with the Japanese police, making such a huge fuss over something like that? Seems like it would be solved quickly and economically if the police just lay themselves before the residents of 2ch and borrow their wisdom?

NEMO(nem…)さん:

Even if they investigate, it’s probably sent from an unlicensed net cafe. I bet that the problem will be that there is no footage left from the security cameras.

goz**masu(goz…)さん:

Although they used a foreign server, it’s a bit much for them to go all the way over there. This kind of crime takes time and money to investigate, and will still come to nothing. There’s nothing that can be done except to reform the law and make it a serious crime, and strengthen deterrents.

月下の騎士(pjm…)さん:

The hurdles are still pretty high when it comes to identifying the culprit!

麻人(asa…)さん:

Ultimately, nothing happened to the real criminal, and he wasn’t falsely arrested. I mean, it really frightens me to think that several people would have been falsely arrested had statements not come from the real criminal. What kind of investigation are they doing? Honestly! It’s probably a crime where the criminal is taking pleasure in seeing this, but I think it’s admirable that he/she made them realise that it was wrongful arrest in the statement. Well, he/she probably couldn’t bear someone to be treated as the culprit, still I think it’s for the best that the real criminal is apprehended as soon as possible.

壱百五拾九号(urs…)さん:

I don’t get why they have to go Europe. If there are people they are co-operating with, then isn’t it sufficient if they just forward e-mails and files?

What do you think? Is it worrisome that the police forced a confession out of an innocent suspect? Is it worrisome that they’re going to Europe to investigate this case?

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  • Jay K.

    Yes Finally I set up disqus so I can post. So happy JapanCrush is on and up and running!

    • besudesu

      Thanks Jay! We’re happy to have you join us!

  • besudesu

    When Yuki first posted this article, I wasn’t too worried about the virus, but it really frightened me that the police would try to force confessions and even make false arrests. How can that happen in Japan? What do you guys think?

    • anon

      The sound of crickets.

      • besudesu

        You think the sound of crickets?

    • yukiyuki

      Thanks besudesu for bringing that up!
      Some people say it might be a Japanese thing – not saying anything (even if finding it weird to proceed with their investigation). Just as ‘if everyone crosses against the red light, then there’s nothing to be afraid of’ or ‘the nail that sticks out gets hammered down’. What you all reckon?

    • John Snow

      This happens in every country. For some crimes you need the fall guy to keep the public at peace. Check 9-11 and the Boston bombing. The fact that Al-Qaeda was appointed as the sole perpetrator minutes after the attack.

      Boston bombing fingers were pointed at foreign exchange students. By one guy who lost his leg during the bombing. (if you ask me if I had lost a leg I would be pretty pissed and would just name someone who I didnt like at the time.) If you look at how they came to the conclusion that these people or a none existence group become suspected criminals you will laugh. Just wait for when Xbone comes online. Fall guy will be even easier to find.

      Pick some dude who lives in the area and wasnt playing the Xbone at the time of a certain crime. Someone who has the means, build a weak motive against that person. Use media to point the finger at the said person. Sit back and watch the world turn the unlucky innocent bystander become the most hated man on Earth.

      Nothing a single person can do when the whole world is against him.

  • ShawnaKM

    This reminds me of an article I read a while back from another site about someone being convicted in Japan (copyright infringement I think) and in the comments section they talked about how the conviction rate is so high in Japan because the police don’t prosecute unless they know they can win. I wonder if that’s the case, then maybe they were trying too hard to get someone prosecuted.

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  • Thor

    And yet another Windows virus (.exe). It just makes me happier to be a Mac user.

  • HaakonKL

    “Is it worrisome that the Japanese police tortured a confession out of someone?”

    Well, yes? Aren’t they supposedly a western country?

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