Ghosn’s alleged escape accomplice denies committing a crime

Former Nissan Chairperson Carlos Ghosn.
Former Nissan Chairperson Carlos Ghosn.
Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images

A onetime US Army Special Forces member accused of assisting in the cloak-and-dagger escape of Nissan’s former chairperson from Japan claims the offense he’s charged with isn’t a crime under Japanese law.

Michael Taylor and his son, Peter, are fighting efforts by Japanese authorities to extradite them after they were arrested last month in the US for their alleged role in smuggling Carlos Ghosn to Lebanon late last year while he was facing trial in Japan for alleged financial misconduct.

The Taylors say their US arrest warrants should be thrown out on the grounds that they don’t allege a crime that qualifies for extradition. The warrants accuse the father and son of assisting Ghosn in jumping his bail, which isn’t a crime under the Japanese penal code, according to a filing by the Taylors on Monday in Boston federal court.

Japanese officials, in their request for the extradition of the Taylors, accused them of a different offense: helping Ghosn to leave Japan without approval of an immigration officer.

“This, at least, is arguably an actual crime under Japanese law, but it is only punishable as a misdemeanor,” the Taylors said in their filing. “Therefore, extradition for that offense is not available under” the US-Japan extradition treaty, they argued.

Helping someone jump bail isn’t a crime in Japan, while assisting a person in leaving the country without appropriate procedures is illegal, said Yunhai Wang, a professor of criminal law at Hitotsubashi University graduate school in Tokyo.

Nobuo Gohara, a former prosecutor and vocal critic of Japan’s criminal-justice system, concurred, saying there is a chance the Taylors won’t be extradited.

A US prosecutor handling the case declined to comment and referred questions to the Boston US Attorney’s press office, which had no immediate comment.

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