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Special forces veteran and son extradited over ex-Nissan chief’s ‘music box’ escape from Japan

Written by on 02/03/2021

A US special forces veteran and his son accused of helping ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan have been extradited to the country.

They are accused of aiding a plot to smuggle Ghosn out of the country, where he was awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges in December 2019.

Michael Taylor and son Peter Taylor allegedly helped him escape in a music box and on a private jet to his home country of Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Prosecutors say they received at least $1.3m (£936,000) for their services.

Instrument cases claimed to be used during Ghosn's escape
Image: Prosecutors say Ghosn escaped in a music case loaded on to a private jet

The pair landed in Tokyo on Monday after a high-profile battle to avoid being handed over, with lawyers claiming they faced the prospect of relentless interrogation and “mental and physical torture”.

They had been in a Boston jail since May, but last month the US Supreme Court cleared the way for their extradition.

“This is a sad day for the family, and for all who believe that veterans deserve better treatment from their own country,” said their lawyer Paul Kelly.

More from Japan

Michael Taylor was shielded from view as he arrived in Japan on Monday
Image: Michael Taylor was shielded from view as he arrived in Japan on Monday

Under Japanese law, suspects cannot have a lawyer present during questioning by prosecutors and can be held for 20 days before being charged or released.

Michael Taylor, 60, is a special forces army veteran and private security specialist who in the past had been hired to rescue abducted children. He has never denied the allegations.

He described the escape plan in detail in an interview with Vanity Fair last year and said he did it “to liberate the oppressed”.

Michael Taylor, in a police photo from 2012, has never denied helping the escape
Image: Michael Taylor, in a police photo from 2012, is a former special forces Green Beret

Prosecutors have called it one of the most “brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history”.

Michael Taylor and another man, George-Antoine Zayek, allegedly chartered a jet to Japan with two large boxes in a ruse that they were musicians with audio equipment.

Ghosn, who was out on bail, is said to have met up with Peter Taylor at a Tokyo hotel before the others joined them.

As the younger Mr Taylor flew to China, the other three are said to have taken a bullet train to another hotel near Osaka airport.

They all went into a room but only two came out.

Prosecutors say Ghosn was inside one of the boxes – which passed through security without being checked.

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January 2020: ‘I was facing conviction rate of 99%’ – Ghosn

The private jet landed in Istanbul in Turkey, before Ghosn was transferred to another flight to Lebanon.

He had initially been arrested in November 2018 on claims he diverted money from Nissan for his own gain and underreported his future income.

He denies the charges against him and says he escaped to avoid “political persecution” and an unfair trial.

 Sky News

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