Ghosn Says Escape Accomplices Would Face Abuse in Japan

Former Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn inserted himself into a legal battle that two men accused of smuggling him out of Tokyo are waging in the U.S. to avoid extradition to Japan.

Former Green Beret Michael Taylor and his son Peter could face “human rights abuses” at the hands of the Japanese government if they’re extradited, Ghosn said in a filing in Boston federal court Tuesday.

The Taylors included the formal declaration from Ghosn in a set of court documents as their legal team mounts a last-ditch attempt to block Japan’s extradition request on the grounds that the Taylors would be tortured by Japanese authorities. The declaration marked Ghosn’s first public intervention in the case, though he has hinted in the past that he might be helping the Taylors behind the scenes.

But Ghosn’s intervention is unlikely to stop the extradition. Also on Tuesday, federal prosecutors filed a declaration from Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun saying the U.S. government had determined that the Taylors’ case did not meet the legal threshold for denying an extradition based on the possibility of torture.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani said she would allow the extradition if the government could produce such a document. If she follows through, the Taylors will almost certainly appeal the decision to a higher court.

In his declaration, Ghosn echoed complaints he has made in the past about the Japanese justice system, saying he was confined in a small cell, interrogated for long periods without a lawyer present and allowed to shower only twice a week.

“To disorient and discomfort me, the lights were left on at all times, and I was denied access to any time-keeping devices,” Ghosn said. “The room’s only window was blurred and recessed so that I could not tell what time of day it was, and the conditions had a negative impact on my mental and physical health.”

“If the Taylors are extradited,” he concluded, “they will face similar or worse conditions to those I faced during my period of detention.”

The Japanese embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last December, Ghosn fled Japan with the help of the Taylors while he was out on bail and awaiting trial, prosecutors say. He was concealed in a box for musical equipment and smuggled onto a plane. He remains a fugitive in Lebanon.

The Taylors have never denied that they were involved in Ghosn’s escape. Michael Taylor gave a detailed interview to Vanity Fair describing how he planned the operation. But after they were arrested in Massachusetts, the Taylors argued in federal court that helping someone jump bail isn’t a crime in Japan.

In September, however, U.S. Magistrate Donald Cabell in Boston approved the Japanese extradition request, ruling that it wasn’t the role of an American court to parse the nuances of a foreign penal code.

“The prevailing view is that the extradition court should defer to the foreign country’s interpretation of its own laws,” Cabell said.

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