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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Carlos Ghosn flies to Lebanon despite order to await trial in Japan

Ex-Nissan chairman says he escaped 'injustice and political persecution'

Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo in April 2019. The former Nissan chairman has said he will start communicating with the media next week -- from Lebanon. (Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

PARIS/TOKYO -- Carlos Ghosn, the former chief of Nissan Motor and Renault, arrived in Beirut on Sunday after leaving Japan, where he awaits trial, according to multiple media reports.

"I am now in Lebanon," Ghosn said in a statement, which Nikkei confirmed with the former auto tycoon's public relations agency on Tuesday. Ghosn also suggested he intends to share his side of the story with the media "as soon as next week."

"I have not fled justice," the statement reads. "I have freed myself from injustice and political persecution."

An official of Japan's Foreign Ministry also said on Tuesday that "Ghosn's statement is confirmed," though the representative also said, "We are checking through the Japanese Embassy in Lebanon."

Japanese authorities will decide whether to seek extradition, he added, saying this would require negotiations through government channels between the two countries.

In this statement, Ghosn announces that he is "now in Lebanon."

Ghosn faces four charges in Japan, including hiding income. He was released on bail in April on the condition that he stay at a residence in Tokyo. The circumstances of his departure from Japan remain unclear.

According to the Tokyo District Court, the terms of Ghosn's bail have not changed. A prosecution official told Nikkei, "We are checking the facts."

Ghosn's lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said he had "nothing to share" with reporters.

Ghosn's lawyer Junichiro Hironaka speaks to reporters in Tokyo on Dec. 31. (Photo by Kei Higuchi)

The Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria, which broke the news, said that Ghosn -- who holds Lebanese citizenship -- arrived in Beirut from Turkey on a private plane. He is expected to hold a news conference soon, according to one report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ghosn had "fled" Japan because he does not believe that he will get a fair trial, quoting a person familiar with the matter. He is "tired of being an industrial political hostage," the source said.

After being released on bail, Ghosn frequently went to his lawyer's office from his Tokyo residence and is known to have spent time on a computer, although his internet access was restricted as part of the conditions set by the court.

The former chairman was indicted on charges of underreporting roughly 9.1 billion yen ($83 million) in compensation as well as having a Nissan subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates pay a total of $10 million to a distributor in Oman, and having $5 million of that transferred into a savings account at a Lebanese investment firm that he controlled.

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