A Seoul court on Thursday rejected Japan’s request to hand over a Chinese attacker of Japanese facilities here and Tokyo.
Liu Qiang, 39, was immediately released and is expected to return to his homeland.
He was sentenced to 10 months in jail for hurling four Molotov cocktails at the Japanese Embassy building in Seoul in January 2011. His term ended in November but remained in custody pending the court’s review of Japan’s request to repatriate him.
He confessed to an arson attack in December 2010 on the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japanese war dead including top war criminals.
The Seoul High Court recognized "connection between his offense and political purposes" in its ruling, which is expected to provoke protests from Japan.
In May Japan requested Korea to hand him over for a separate trial over the shrine attack.
Beijing has demanded Qiang be sent back home. The Chinese Embassy in Seoul provided him with attorneys for legal proceedings here.
He told the court in late November that he was protesting the "anti-humanitarian acts by imperial Japan."
His grandmother is believed to have had been forced into sex slavery during World War II.
Korean civic groups have staged rallies against his extradition to Japan, slamming Tokyo’s refusal to atone for sex slavery, forced labor mobilization and other atrocities during colonial rule.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)