Ghosn affair: two Americans on trial in Tokyo admit to helping him escape from Japan
Eva Deschamps / June 14, 2021
The trial of Michael Taylor and his son Peter, accused of participating in the daring exfiltration of Carlos Ghosn from Japan in late 2019, opened Monday in Tokyo, and the two Americans readily admitted the facts.
Looking calm, Michael Taylor, 60, a former U.S. Special Forces operative who has gone into private security, and his son Peter Taylor, 28, did not dispute the facts laid out by a prosecutor. They had been arrested in May 2020 in the United States, under arrest warrants issued by Japan. After exhausting all possible appeals, they were extradited last March to Japan for trial. They face up to three years in prison. On the morning of December 31, 2019, Japan learned of the flight to Lebanon of its most famous defendant: Carlos Ghosn, the deposed big boss of Nissan, Renault and their automotive alliance, until then free on bail pending his trial for alleged financial malpractice, with the prohibition to leave the country. Two days earlier, the Franco-Libano-Brazilian had quietly left his home in Tokyo to reach Osaka (west) by taking the shinkansen (Japanese high-speed train) wearing a cap, mask and glasses to avoid being recognized. The two men who accompanied him were identified from surveillance images: Michael Taylor and George Antoine Zayek, a man of Lebanese origin who remains untraceable.
The three men went to a hotel near Kansai International Airport, near Osaka. Investigators believe that Carlos Ghosn then slipped into a large box of audio equipment with small holes in it to allow him to breathe. Posing as musicians, his two accomplices were able to take their luggage without passing through airport security, as was then allowed in Japan for private jets. The three men then flew to Istanbul, from where Mr. Ghosn took another private plane to Lebanon, where he still resides. Peter Taylor, who was in Tokyo just before the leak and who had met Mr. Ghosn several times in Japan in the previous months, left the country alone on a plane to China. Mr. Ghosn is also the subject of an arrest warrant from Japan with a request for his arrest by Interpol, but remains beyond the reach of Lebanon, which does not extradite its nationals.