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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

US arrests ex-Green Beret and son accused of aiding Ghosn's escape

Two men suspected of smuggling former Nissan chairman out of Japan in box

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn and his wife, Carole Ghosn, pose for a picture in Beirut on Jan. 14.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- U.S. authorities have arrested two of the three men accused of aiding former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan.

Michael Taylor, 59, a former U.S. Green Beret, and his son, Peter Taylor, 27, were taken into custody in Massachusetts on Wednesday, according to federal prosecutors. The suspects had booked flights to Beirut via London for the same day.

The Taylors are suspected of violating Japanese immigration law, accused of helping Ghosn flee in an elaborate plot to Lebanon via Turkey in December. The arrests were made based on the U.S. extradition treaty with Japan.

According to US officials, the two men arrived in Boston from Dubai in March. An arrest warrant was issued on May 6 at the request of Japan.

After being jailed in Japan on suspicions of financial wrongdoing, the former automobile executive was under house arrest in Tokyo awaiting trial. But Ghosn fled the country in December, apparently smuggled in a box onto a private jet at Kansai International Airport near Osaka. He soon reappeared in Beirut, where he now lives openly.

Court documents allege the Taylors and a man named George-Antoine Zayek engineered the escape. Peter Taylor traveled to Japan three times prior to the escape and met with Ghosn in several instances. On Dec. 29, the day of the escape, Michael Taylor and Zayek flew to Kansai airport from Dubai in a private jet. They arrived with boxes that appeared to contain audio equipment, telling immigration officials they were musicians.

Ghosn, meanwhile, went alone to Peter Taylor's hotel room at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Tokyo, surveillance footage shows. Ghosn changed clothes there, apparently having been given a hotel card key in advance. Michael Taylor and Zayek met Ghosn and together took a train to Osaka, the court documents allege. Peter Taylor flew to China from Narita Airport near Tokyo.

The elder Taylor and Zayek are alleged to have hidden Ghosn in one of the boxes, sneaked him through emigration and flew to Turkey aboard the private jet.

Japan has asked Lebanon to hand over Ghosn, but Beirut has refused. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries, and though Interpol has issued a "red notice" for his arrest, cooperation with the international law enforcement group is voluntary.

Tokyo prosecutors obtained a warrant for the Taylors and Zayek in January. They are expected to urge American authorities to hand over the men under the extradition treaty between the two nations.

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