Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has said the Green Beret accused of helping him escape Japan should not be extradited because he would face inhumane interrogation there.
Carlos Ghosn said Wednesday he was ‘shocked’ to hear Michael Taylor could be sent to the country, adding: ‘I’ve lived in the United States, I lived in Japan.
‘And when I see the differences between the two systems, and when I learned that there was an extradition treaty between the two countries, I was shocked because of the differences.’
Taylor, 59, and his son Peter are currently being held in U.S. federal custody pending an extradition request from Japan, where they are charged in Ghosn’s brazen December escape.
Ghosn had been under house arrest in Tokyo, where he faced criminal charges of underreporting $80 million in earnings, shifting $16 million in personal losses onto the company books, and using Nissan to secretly fund his lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors say the Taylors facilitated a ‘brazen’ escape in which Ghosn was hidden in a musical-equipment box and smuggled onto a private jet to Lebanon in December 2019.
The Taylors were arrested in May over their purported involvement in the escape and are being held in a Massachusetts prison. The Japanese government is hoping to prosecute the pair and is seeking their extradition.
Carlos Ghosn, left, said Wednesday he was ‘shocked’ to hear Michael Taylor, right, could be extradited to Japan. Taylor, 59, and his son Peter are currently being held in U.S. federal custody pending an extradition request from Japan, where they are charged in Ghosn’s brazen December escape
The metal instrument cases, allegedly to be used for escaping of ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon through Turkey
Ghosn spoke with Fox Business Wednesday where he said Michael Taylor would be ‘interrogated by a prosecutor without any presence of a lawyer’ should he be extradited and will not be able to access tapes of his questioning, even though they will exist.
He also said the American would have to sign a document which is written in Japanese at the end of each interrogation, adding: ‘He’s going to have to trust that what is written is exactly what’s being translated to him.’
Ghosn spoke out about the Taylors’ arrest in an affadavit last week, saying: ‘I have unfortunately experienced the Japanese law enforcement and judicial system, practices and tactics that confirms the Taylors’s fears, from prolonged pre-trial detention, splitting accusations to give the option of filing additional charges and extending pre-trial detention, mental torture, intimidation with the single aim of coercing a confession and/or acknowledgment of guilt, and with no hope of a timely and fair trial.’
Former Green Beret Taylor, pictured, and his son were arrested in May over their purported involvement in his December 2019 escape and are being held in a Massachusetts prison. The Japanese government is hoping to prosecute the pair and is seeking their extradition
Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, on Wednesday pleaded with Donald Trump to let him stay in the US. He said: ‘At the end of the day it’s the State Department who makes the final decision, not the courts. And I guess only the president can turn this around.’
Taylor Sr. added: ‘I can’t believe for one second that our president of the United States, President Trump, knows about this because I just can’t see him sending his veterans and American citizens overseas to be tortured for something that should have never happened and there’s no case precedent in it either.’
The father and son last month were granted a temporary reprieve from their extradition. Taylor said of his son: ‘He had nothing to do with it whatsoever.’
Ghosn said ‘looking for the truth is absolutely not of the concern’ of Japan, adding: ‘What’s important for them is to get an additional victory in their 99.4 percent conviction rate, which, as you know, is second to none in in the world.’
He added: ‘They will not have a speedy trial. This is one of the first rights of any citizen in the world, with respect to human rights, is you have the right to a speedy trial.’
Michael Taylor is pictured front, Lebanese George Antonie Z rear. They are accused of helping former Nissan’s chief Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan, where he was held in house arrest. The two men are pictured during their check point process prior to their exit at the Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Turkey on January 16, 2020
Michael Taylor was working in Asia as a security contractor when he came into contact with Ghosn.
Ghosn said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions.
His escape flight went first to Turkey, then to Lebanon, where Ghosn has citizenship. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Bank records show Ghosn wired more than $860,000 to a company linked to Peter Taylor in October 2019, prosecutors said in court documents.
Ghosn’s son also made cryptocurrency payments totaling about $500,000 to Peter Taylor in the first five months of this year, prosecutors say.
Michael Taylor, who was implicated in enabling the dramatic escape of former Nissan Motor Co boss Carlos Ghosn, is seen in an unrelated 2012 booking photograph
However, back in July, Michael minimized his son’s involvement in the plot in an interview with Vanity Fair. In the same sit-down interview, he also claimed he didn’t even make money off of the audacious scheme.
Michael told the magazine that he first got a call about Ghosn in the spring of 2019.
A Lebanese middleman, whom Michael had worked with before, told him: ‘We got a guy. He’s close to us. He’s getting railroaded over in Japan. Is there something you can help us with?’
Michael accepted the job, and over the following months assembled a crack team of experts in maritime operations, airport security, IT, police and countersurveillance. Most were former Special Forces operators whom he’d met in the military.
Michael told Vanity Fair he called his attorney and other legal experts and asked whether helping someone in Japan jump bail would violate any U.S. laws, and was assured it would not.
After initially considering sneaking Ghosn out by sea, Taylor rejected the plan, noting that it would require crossing 2,600 miles of open water to Thailand before boarding a plane to Lebanon.
The TC-RZA, a private jet which was used during the escape of ousted Nissan chairman Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon through Turkey, is pictured in an unknown location, May 20, 2016
Ghosn, who was born in Brazil, also has French and Lebanese nationality. He knew he could be assured of his protection from extradition in Lebanon, which has a blanket policy of declining to extradite its own citizens, and where he is regarded as a national hero.
Ghosn has vehemently denied all of the charges against him, and claimed that his prosecution was motivated by Japanese xenophobia.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Michael described how he settled on a plan to extract Ghosn by air. A private charter plane was needed because Ghosn’s notoriety made escape by commercial air travel impossible.
The former Green Beret and his team studied five airports near Tokyo, and found a key flaw at Kansai International—the terminal did not have scanners big enough to accommodate cargo the size of a box that could hold a human.
Michael and his team created a set of custom subwoofer cases, one large enough to accommodate the 165-pound Ghosn, with air holes drilled discreetly in the bottom.
Michael also discovered a crucial flaw in the security maintaining Ghosn’s house arrest. Though he was under surveillance at all times by two plainclothes detectives paid for by Nissan and three cameras pointed at his door, the cameras were not a live feed.
Instead, the cameras recorded locally, and the tapes were picked up once a week. The day the tapes were collected varied, but it was always a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. An escape on Thursday might go undetected until the following week.
The plot unfolded in late December. Taylor and his team landed at Osaka at 10.30am in a private plane chartered through a Turkish company that promised to ask no questions.
Ghosn walked out of his front door the same afternoon, disguised in a hat and a surgical mask, which were common in Japan even before the pandemic, and walked to the Grand Hyatt, where he was often allowed to have lunch.
Investigators claim that Ghosn then met Michael Taylor in a room at the Hyatt booked under Taylor’s son’s name — however Taylor denied this to Vanity Fair, saying that he met Ghosn in the lobby.
Former Green Beret Michael Taylor of Harvard, Massachusetts is seen with his wife and sons in a Facebook photo posted by his wife, Lamia Abboud Taylor, on July 4, 2015
Taylor with wife Lamia. Taylor and his son Peter were last month granted a temporary reprieve from their extradition. Taylor said his son ‘had nothing to do with the escape’
Michael, his Lebanese accomplice George Zayek, and Ghosn then took a high-speed train from Tokyo to Osaka. A little before 10pm, Michael said he explained to the airport manager that his party was running late and needed to rush through security, offering a $10,000 tip in Japanese yen.
Ghosn, now inside a custom-built sub-woofer box, was transported to the airport just 20 minutes before the charter flight’s scheduled take-off at 10.30pm.
The airport security staff and baggage handlers had been working all day, and the wearied staff did not give the group or their cargo a second look.
‘Nothing got x-rayed, not even our backpacks,’ Michael recalled.
Michael says that after loading the group’s luggage, including the box with Ghosn inside, one of the workers handed Michael the envelope with the ‘tip’ he had offered the manager, saying it was against airport policy to accept cash gifts.
Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn and his wife Carole Ghosn talk during an interview with Reuters in Beirut, Lebanon January 14, 2020
Though the heist was rumored to cost $30 million, court documents show about $1.3 million in transfers from Ghosn to the Taylors.
Michael told Vanity Fair that expenses for the scheme ran about $1.3 million, and that he made no profit from the venture. Ghosn, he says, has not offered to pay him. Michael says he did it ‘de oppresso liber,’ to liberate the oppressed, the motto of the Special Forces
‘If I did it for the money,’ he told the magazine, ‘that money would have been paid in advance.’
The Taylors argue the charges against them are fatally flawed as the Japanese penal code does not make it a criminal offense to help someone ‘bail jump’ unless that person is in custody.