US judge allows extradition of two men accused of helping Ghosn escape Japan

29 January 2021 - 08:33 By Reuters
Nissan's former chairperson, Carlos Ghosn, speaking before he was re-arrested in Tokyo, Japan.
Nissan's former chairperson, Carlos Ghosn, speaking before he was re-arrested in Tokyo, Japan.
Image: Hironaka Law Office via Getty Images

A US judge on Thursday rejected a last-ditch effort by two men to avoid being extradited to Japan to face charges that they helped former Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairperson Carlos Ghosn flee the country.

The ruling by US district judge Indira Talwani in Boston cleared the way for US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, to be handed over to Japan, after the US state department approved their extradition.

The Taylors' lawyers had argued they could not be prosecuted in Japan for helping someone “bail jump” and that, if extradited, they faced the prospect of relentless interrogations and torture.

Ghosn, in a court filing, sought to support their claim, arguing that he faced prolonged detention, mental torture and intimidation in Japan and the Taylors would face “similar or worse conditions”.

But Talwani said that “though the prison conditions in Japan may be deplorable”, that was not enough to bar extradition and that authorities had established their alleged actions were an “extraditable offence”.

Lawyers for the Taylors quickly moved to appeal. They declined to comment, as did Nissan. Ghosn and the Japanese embassy in Washington did not immediately comment.

The Taylors were arrested in May at Japan's request. Talwani put their extradition on hold on October 29 so she could hear their challenge to the state department's decision.

Prosecutors say the Taylors helped Ghosn flee Japan on December 29 2019, hidden in a box and on a private jet before reaching his childhood home, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn was awaiting trial on charges that he engaged in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan's financial statements. Ghosn has denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said the elder Taylor, a private security specialist, and his son received $1.3m (roughly R19,881,238) for their services.