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US suspects in ex-Nissan boss Ghosn's escape arrested by Japan prosecutors

A plane believed to be carrying Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor is pictured at Boston Logan International Airport on March 1, 2021. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- An American man and his son accused of helping former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in 2019 while on bail have been arrested by Japanese prosecutors after the pair were handed over for extradition by the United States, investigative sources said Tuesday.

    An airplane from Boston carrying Michael Taylor, 60, a former Green Beret, and his son Peter Taylor, 28, will touch down at Narita airport near Tokyo in the afternoon, the sources said.

    The handover came after they lost their battle against extradition last month. The two men were arrested in Massachusetts in May last year by U.S. authorities at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's request.

    The Japanese prosecutors obtained arrest warrants in January last year for Ghosn and the Taylors, who are suspected of helping smuggle the former auto tycoon out of Japan hidden inside a box for music equipment on a private jet on Dec. 29, 2019.

    The pair are suspected of taking Ghosn to a hotel in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, from his home in central Tokyo before putting him on the private jet leaving from Kansai International Airport despite knowing his bail conditions did not allow him to travel overseas.

    After arriving in Istanbul, Ghosn, who headed Nissan for nearly two decades, flew on a different jet to Lebanon where he spent his childhood and now lives.

    Last October, the U.S. State Department approved turning them over to Japan. The Taylors fought extradition but their appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in February in line with previous rulings by a federal court in Massachusetts and a higher court in Boston.

    U.S. prosecutors have said the men received more than $1.3 million from Ghosn and his family for their help.

    Ghosn has claimed that his arrest, initially came in 2018, was the result of a coup staged by Nissan executives and that he fled Japan to escape what he called a "rigged" justice system.

    The 66-year-old was supposed to face trial in Japan on allegations that he misused Nissan funds and understated his remuneration by billions of yen in financial reports over multiple years.

    Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon and has been seeking to have Ghosn detained via Interpol.

    The Japanese prosecutors have also obtained an arrest warrant for George Zayek, 61, a Lebanon-born U.S. citizen, who is suspected of working together with the Taylors for Ghosn's escape.

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