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US high court justice allows extradition to Japan of Ghosn allies

·2-min read
Two American aides to former Nissan head Carlos Ghosn -- who is seen at a September 29, 2020 news conference in Jounieh, Lebanon -- have lost a bid to escape US extradition to Japan on charges they helped him flee that Asian country

Rejecting an emergency appeal, US Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer has cleared the way for the extradition to Japan of two Americans accused of helping former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flee the Asian nation.

Breyer's order, which followed similar rulings by lower courts, was issued without comment. The appeal went to Breyer as the justice overseeing the northeast region where the Americans, Michael Taylor and son Peter Taylor, live.

The Taylors were arrested in May 2020 after Japan issued a warrant accusing them of helping Ghosn flee Tokyo for Lebanon on December 29, 2019 -- reportedly secreted in a large box in a private jet -- as he faced financial charges in Japan.

Japan has also named a Lebanese national, George-Antoine Zayek, as an accomplice in the daring escape by onetime automobile titan Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese citizenship.

Breyer's decision effectively reaffirmed a ruling Thursday by a three-judge panel of the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

A US federal judge in late January had given the original go-ahead to extradite the father and son to Japan.

The courts have uniformly rejected the contention by the Taylors' lawyers that the two men would face torture-like conditions in Japanese prison sufficient to merit breaching the extradition treaty between Tokyo and Washington.

Federal Judge Indira Talwani pointed out, moreover, that their alleged actions would be considered a crime in the United States, as well as in Japan.

Peter Taylor was apprehended in Boston as he was trying to leave the country for Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

He and his father, a former US Special Forces member turned private security contractor, have been imprisoned pending the outcome of the extradition fight.

US court documents show the three men allegedly tried to help smuggle Ghosn out of the country inside a large musical equipment case.

Prosecutors in one court filing called it "one of the most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history."

Ghosn, who was a global business superstar when his career came crashing to an end, fled Japan in December 2019 while out on bail facing financial misconduct charges.

He was arrested in November 2018 and had been expected to face trial in April 2020 on charges including understating his pay and misusing company assets.

He spent 130 days in prison before being released on bail and completing his audacious escape act.

Ghosn, who has denied any wrongdoing, has said he fled because he could not get a fair trial in Japan.

bbk/acb