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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Interpol issues 'wanted' notice for Carlos Ghosn

Turkey detains seven individuals, while Tokyo prosecutors raid residence

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn was awaiting trial in Japan on financial charges before fleeing house arrest. (Nikkei collage/AP photo)  

TOKYO/BEIRUT -- Interpol issued a wanted notice for Carlos Ghosn on Thursday at the request of Japanese investigators following the former Nissan Motor chief's mysterious escape to Lebanon from house arrest in Tokyo.

Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan confirmed with The Associated Press that the country had received a notice from Interpol, but that it does not intend to extradite Ghosn back to Japan. Serhan suggested that Ghosn could face questioning by Lebanese prosecutors.

Interpol's "red notices" alert police forces worldwide that an individual is wanted and request that law enforcement locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action. But the international policing organization cannot force a country to comply, and the notice is not an international arrest warrant.

Japan has signed extradition treaties with only the U.S. and South Korea. In the past, non-treaty countries have honored Japan's extradition requests for people suspected of murder or other serious crimes. But such transfers are optional, and nation-states have routinely declined to extradite their own citizens.

Agnes Pannier-Runacher, France's secretary of state for economy and finance, said Thursday that her country would not extradite Ghosn to Japan if the former chairman were to enter France.

"France never extradites its nationals," Pannier-Runacher told France's BFM news channel.

The red notice comes on the same day that Turkey detained seven individuals suspected of involvement in the getaway, local news outlet Anadolu Agency said.

The seven people -- four pilots, one operations director for a courier company and two employees from a business that handles ground services -- are the first to be arrested in the former chairman's escape.

Japanese officials had requested strong action by Turkey immediately after Ghosn's escape. The businessman, facing trial in Japan on financial charges, reportedly arrived in Lebanon via Turkey.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has reported that a Turkish private jet company is suspected of involvement in the transfer of Ghosn. When a private jet from Japan's Kansai International Airport arrived at Istanbul Ataturk Airport early Monday morning, a separate private jet that belonged to the Turkish company was parked inside the same hangar. 

That Turkish jet left for the Lebanese capital of Beirut 30 minutes later.

Tokyo prosecutors raid the residence where former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn lived on Jan. 2. (Photo by Kei Higuchi) 

Also on Thursday, Tokyo prosecutors raided Ghosn's residence in the Japanese capital. Authorities took custody of security cameras and personal belongings as part of their investigation into Ghosn's exit from the country.

Ghosn issued a statement Thursday, denying that his family helped him escape from Japan.

"There has been speculation in the media that my wife Carole, and other members of my family, played a role in my departure from Japan. All such speculation is inaccurate and false," Ghosn said. "I alone arranged for my departure. My family had no role whatsoever."

Lebanese officials had petitioned for Ghosn's return to the Middle Eastern nation when Keisuke Suzuki, Japan's state minister for foreign affairs, met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut on Dec. 20, according to a Japanese government source.

Suzuki essentially declined the Lebanese request by saying that Japan is following fair legal procedures in the Ghosn case.

Ghosn apparently had two French passports, one that he surrendered and one that he kept in a locked case at his Tokyo residence. The former Nissan chairman needed to have a passport in his possession at all times to stay in Japan.

The Tokyo District Court reportedly allowed the second passport to be kept in the case. Ghosn's lawyers had custody of the key.

Ghosn reportedly entered Lebanon using his French passport and his Lebanese-issued identification. Lebanese officials say his entry was legal.

Meanwhile, a source close to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan says no record of Ghosn leaving Japan exists in the country's official database. That suggests Ghosn did not take the necessary procedures to exit Japan legally. The Tokyo District Court revoked the former Nissan chief's bail earlier this week.

Additional reporting by Togo Shiraishi in Paris. 

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