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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US judge may order extradition of Americans to Japan over Ghosn escape case

Michael Taylor (R) at passport control at Istanbul’s airport accompanied by George Antoine Zayek [AFP]

Date of publication: 29 August, 2020

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A US judge signalled he may order the extradition of two suspects to Japan over their involvement in the escape of Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn to Lebanon via Turkey
A lawyer for two American men urged a judge Friday to block their extradition to Japan, where they are wanted on charges that they smuggled former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of the country in a box last year.

Attorneys for Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, have not denied that the men helped Ghosn flee while he was awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges in December, but say their actions don't fit under the law with which Japan is trying to convict them.

Defence attorney Abbe Lowell told US Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell that before the Taylors' case, the law has never been applied to someone who helped another person flee while on bail.

Cabell seemed hesitant to block their extradition, suggesting that a Japanese court would be a better place to fight about the country's law.

“Part of me is just wondering the more we argue about this, doesn’t it suggest that this should be left to the courts in Japan to work out rather than a court here?” Cabell said in a hearing held via videoconference.

Cabell said he hoped to issue a ruling within a week, if not sooner. Even if Cabell rules they can be extradited, the final decision will be made by the US State Department.

The Taylors, wearing orange jumpsuits, appeared on the video screen from the Massachusetts jail where they have been locked up since their arrests in May.

Authorities say Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, and his son helped smuggle Ghosn out of Japan on a private jet with former the Nissan boss hidden in a large box. The flight went first to Turkey, then to Lebanon, where Ghosn has citizenship but which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

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. Ghosn has denied allegations that he underreported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain.

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