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Americans arrested in Nissan CEO Japan escape appear in court

Lucas Manfredi

Japan will have 45 days to submit an extradition request for former Green Beret Michael Taylor, 59, and his son, Peter Taylor, 27, after the two were arrested by U.S. authorities Wednesday for their alleged roles in helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan to avoid trial over alleged financial wrongdoing.

The Taylors were arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service in Harvard, Massachusetts. They appeared before federal Judge Donald Cabell from jail via videoconference on Wednesday, wearing orange jumpsuits and tan face coverings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hassink said Japan plans “as quickly as possible” to submit a formal request to extradite the Taylors.

AMERICANS ARRESTED FOR HELPING FORMER NISSAN EXEC CARLOS GHOSN FLEE JAPAN: FEDS 

Authorities say Ghosn was inside luggage containing two big black boxes, which were brought to Japan’s Kansai International Airport on Dec. 29, 2019, by Michael Taylor and another man, George-Antoine Zayek. According to court documents, the luggage passed through a security checkpoint without being checked and was loaded onto a private jet headed for Turkey.

At their arrival, Taylor and Zayek told airport employees they were musicians carrying audio equipment.

Meanwhile, Ghosn, who was out of custody on a hefty bail, headed to the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo and met up with Peter Taylor in his hotel room, authorities said. Peter Taylor had traveled to Japan at least three times since July 2019 and met with Ghosn at least seven times during those visits, according to court records.

The elder Taylor and Zayek joined after a brief stop to rent a separate room near the airport and, soon after their arrival, the group left the Grand Hyatt and split up. Peter Taylor headed to the airport to hop on a flight to China, court documents said. The others hopped on a bullet train and arrived at the Shin-Osaka train station about four hours later, authorities said.

They hailed a taxi and went back to the towering luxury hotel where Taylor and Zayek had booked a room earlier in the day. All four men went in and only two were seen walking out.

Two days later, Ghosn announced publicly he was in Lebanon.

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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 said he is innocent of allegations he underreported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He says the compensation was never decided on or received and that the Nissan payments were for legitimate business purposes.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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