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Japan seeks extradition of Americans accused in Ghosn escape

by Ace Damon

Tokyo prosecutors said on Friday that an extradition request had been filed for two Americans arrested in the U.S. for allegedly helping Carlos Ghosn, a former Nissan president, to escape Japan while he was on bail.

“We express our deepest gratitude for the cooperation that the American authorities have shown in our request,” the Tokyo District Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

“We plan to cooperate in every way possible so that the extradition procedures for the two can be carried out quickly,” he said.

Completion of the extradition request does not mean that Michael Taylor, 59, a former Green Beret and private security expert, and his son Peter Taylor, 27, will be handed over.

Arrested in Massachusetts in May, they are accused of helping Ghosn escape to Lebanon in December, while awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct.

Their lawyer argued that bail is not technically a crime in Japan.

Prosecutors here dismissed that argument, emphasizing that Japan has arrested arrest warrants against the Taylors for allegedly helping a criminal escape, which is a crime under Japanese law.

Japanese prosecutors are also trying to bring Ghosn back to Japan, but Lebanon, unlike the United States, does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

If convicted in Japan, the Taylors could face a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of 300,000 yen ($ 2,800).

Authorities say the Taylors helped get Ghosn out of Japan in a private jet, with the former Nissan boss hiding in a large box.

Ghosn, who has led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades, has repeatedly said he is innocent. He said he fled because he believes he could not expect a fair trial in Japan.

He faced accusations of underreporting future income and a breach of confidence in diverting Nissan’s money for personal gain. He says that compensation was never decided or received, and that payments were legitimate.

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