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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Turkish jet worker aided Ghosn escape under 'threats to family'

Former Nissan chairman to face Lebanese prosecutors 'as early as Monday'

Carlos Ghosn faces charges of financial misconduct in Japan.    © Reuters

BEIRUT -- A manager at private jet company MNG Jet reportedly admitted he took part in the escape of former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn from Japan, telling the court that an acquaintance in Beirut had forced him to participate by threatening his wife and children.

The manager said he did not know the passenger was Ghosn, Turkish media reported Saturday.

The revelation came as Lebanese prosecutors prepared to question Ghosn as early as Monday to determine if it is appropriate to detain him following an arrest order issued by Interpol.

A Lebanese government official said the judiciary was "obliged to hear him. But it can still decide whether to arrest him or let him remain free." The official added that Ghosn, who escaped custody in Japan while awaiting a trial on financial misconduct charges, could be heard on Monday or Tuesday, AFP reported.

Turkish prosecutors announced they have confirmed the illegal transit of Ghosn through Turkey, saying authorities were never notified that he was traveling through the country. 

Lebanese justice minister Albert Serhan had previously told Nikkei that prosecutors will question Ghosn "as soon as possible" on the matters including the circumstances of the escape, and respond to the "red notice" from Interpol's Tokyo office requesting the arrest of the Brazilian-born tycoon who was raised in the country.

The Interpol-issued alert is not an international arrest warrant and there is no requirement for Beirut to arrest an individual under notice. It is unclear if any physical restraint or ban on travel will be applied. Beirut, which does not have an extradition treaty with Tokyo, stands against the handover to the Japanese authorities. The former chairman plans to hold a news conference on Wednesday.

According to local news outlet Anadolu Agency, Turkish court on Friday confirmed the arrests of a courier company manager and four pilots on allegation they helped Ghosn escape, as well as the confiscation of two private jets used for the operation. Among the seven individuals detained by the prosecutors on Thursday, two airport workers have been released.

MNG, which filed a criminal complaint against the employee and other individuals involved in the escape, said the employee acted alone in altering the passenger list, which was required to be filed to the authorities.

According to Turkish and multiple reports, the private jet which carried Ghosn took off Kansai International Airport in Osaka on Sunday and arrived in Istanbul on Monday early morning. The former chairman secretly boarded the other private jet and entered Lebanon using a French passport.

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