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Japan to Taleban: Release Japanese Man Accused of Spying - 2001-10-25

Japan is urging Afghanistan's ruling Taleban to release a Japanese man who was arrested on Monday on suspicion of spying. Taleban officials say he entered the country illegally.

Tokyo says it is trying to confirm the identity of the Japanese national being held in Afghanistan and is asking the Taleban to release him as soon as possible.

Government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda says Japan is making its utmost efforts to rescue the man on humanitarian grounds.

The Afghan Islamic Press says the Taleban has identified the man as Daigen Yanagida of Tokyo, and says he is in his early thirties. The news agency says that he told officials that he is a writer gathering material for a book. He is being held in the city of Jalalabad while authorities investigate.

Under Taleban law, he could face the death penalty if found guilty of spying.