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Japan still wants Ghosn to stop his assistants

TOKYO – Japanese prosecutors have said they will continue to prosecute former auto titan Carlos Ghosn after he arrested and jailed two Americans accused of helping Mr. Ghosn escape Japan in a box.

Father-son team Michael Taylor, 60, and Peter Taylor, 28, spent Tuesday night in the same Tokyo prison where Mr. Ghosn was held for more than four months in 2018 and 2019. The Taylors have arrived. in Tokyo from Boston earlier in the day after losing their nine-month fight in US courts to block their extradition.

Tokyo prosecutors invited foreign media to a press conference where they announced the arrest of the Taylors on suspicion of allowing the escape of a criminal. If they are found guilty of this charge, they face up to three years in prison.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Yamamoto said authorities have not forgotten their main career, Mr. Ghosn. He said prosecutors were anxiously awaiting the day when they could bring in the old Nissan Motor Co. and Renault. HER

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head to trial in Tokyo.

“Ghosn is still on the run,” Yamamoto said.

Mr. Ghosn remains in Beirut, where he went after his escape from Japan at the end of December 2019. Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

Mr Ghosn, who has been accused by Japan of financial crimes, including abusing his position at Nissan for personal gain, maintains his innocence and says he fled Japan because he did not believe that he would benefit from a fair trial. At the time of his escape, Mr. Ghosn was released on bail and lived in a house in Tokyo.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ghosn declined to comment on the arrests and the prosecutor’s comments.

Authorities say the elder Mr Taylor, a former Green Beret, escorted Mr Ghosn from Tokyo to Osaka before smuggling the former executive aboard a private jet, hiding him in heavy luggage.

Peter Taylor visited Japan several times in 2019 and met Mr. Ghosn at Mr. Ghosn’s attorney’s office, authorities said. Then, on the day of the escape, he helped Mr. Ghosn change clothes at a Tokyo hotel and get ready for his trip, they say.

A man believed to be Peter Taylor disembarking from a plane after arriving at Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture on Tuesday.


Photo:

str / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

The Taylors do not dispute their role in Mr. Ghosn’s escape, but argue that what they did was not a crime under Japanese law. The identity of their lawyers in Japan could not be determined immediately.

The Taylors had fought to prevent their extradition to Japan since their arrest in the United States in May. Their lawyers argued that the Japanese justice system was inhumane and that their treatment in prison would amount to torture.

In particular, they observed that suspects in Japan are generally held in solitary confinement and undergo daily interrogation by prosecutors, during which lawyers for the suspects cannot be present. Japanese officials say the presence of a defense attorney could make it more difficult for prosecutors to get the truth about what happened.

Mr. Ghosn also criticized the practice, calling it hostage justice. A UN human rights council backed Ghosn last year, urging Japan to ensure that those accused of crimes have access to a lawyer during questioning.

Prosecutors separated the Taylors upon their arrival in Japan. Michael Taylor got out first, entering a green and cream colored bus. Peter Taylor exited the plane about 15 minutes later, boarding a second bus. In both cases, prosecutors attempted to shield the Taylors from the press by waving a gray sheet as they walked towards the bus.

After several hours of procedures at the airport, the buses drove the Taylors to their prison.

At a press conference in Beirut in January 2020, former auto executive Carlos Ghosn said he “had fled injustice” in Japan. WSJ’s Chip Cummins discusses what Mr. Ghosn said and didn’t say, and what he revealed about possible next steps. Photo: Maya Alleruzzo / Associated Press (Originally posted Jan.8, 2020)

Write to Sean McLain at sean.mclain@wsj.com and Chieko Tsuneoka at chieko.Tsuneoka@dowjones.com

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