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Pair arrested in ex-Nissan exec Carlos Ghosn's escape fight extradition

Stephanie Pagones

The former Green Beret and his son accused of smuggling ex-Nissan exec Carlos Ghosn out of Japan are fighting their extradition to the country, where they argue the offense is not even a crime.

Michael Taylor, 59, and Peter Taylor, 27, are wanted in Japan on allegations that they helped Ghosn flee the country in a box in December while the former exec was out on bail and awaiting trial on financial misconduct allegations.

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But lawyers for the Taylors said in a legal document filed Monday that “bail jumping" is not a crime in Japan and, therefore, helping someone evade their bail conditions isn't a crime either. The attorneys accused U.S. authorities of "attempting to transform Japanese law to criminalize the act of helping someone engage in an act that is not itself criminal.”

They also slammed the U.S. government for filing criminal complaints for the Taylors’ arrests that stated something different than what was outlined in the Japanese warrants.

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“It has to be emphasized that the offenses for which Japan actually sought the Taylors’ attest are not subject to extradition under the Treaty,” the motion states. “Had the U.S. Complaints accurately described the alleged offenses in Japan, there still would be no probable cause for the provisional warrants, as only felony offenses may be the subject of an extradition request.”

The defense lawyers called Michael Taylor a “decorated veteran who has served his country admirably” and his son an “impressive recent college graduate, with no criminal history whatsoever.”

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Authorities say the Taylors helped sneak Ghosn out of Japan on a private jet with the former Nissan boss tucked away 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.

It is unclear how the Taylors know the embattled businessman.

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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 under-reported 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 the Nissan payments were for legitimate business purposes.

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Attorneys argued that at the very least, the Taylors should be released from jail while they challenge the extradition because they don't pose a risk of flight or danger to the community.

“Japan has never prosecuted anyone, including Ghosn, for ‘escaping’ bail conditions,” court papers state. “To the contrary, in the wake of Ghosn’s departure from Japan, numerous news articles have reported on the fact that what Mr. Ghosn did was not a crime.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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