Carlos Ghosn accomplices lose battle against extradiction to Japan

Michael and Peter Taylor confess to assisting former Nissan boss in his bizarre escape from Japan

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn holds a press conference at the Maronite Christian Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, as he launches an initiative to help Lebanon that is undergoing a severe economic and financial crisis, in Kaslik, north of Beirut, Lebanon. A U.S. judge on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 cleared the way for the extradition of an American father and son wanted by Japan for smuggling former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of the country while he was awaiting trial. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani rejected a request to block the U.S. from handing Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, over to Japan. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
Powered by automated translation

The two Americans accused of helping former Nissan Motor Co chairman Carlos Ghosn to escape prosecution in Tokyo failed in their latest effort to avoid criminal charges in Japan.

After temporarily delaying the extradition, US District Judge Indira Talwani ruled on Thursday that the former Army Green Beret Michael Taylor and his son Peter can be extradited, rejecting their argument that they would be tortured by the Japanese government.

But it is unlikely they will be sent to Japan anytime soon to face charges related to Mr Ghosn’s escape in late 2019. Within minutes of the ruling, lawyers for the Taylors filed a notice of appeal, signaling that they plan to continue to fight the extradition request in the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

The appeal is poised to extend the long-running legal battle over the Taylors’ extradition request. A US magistrate in Boston approved Japan’s request in early September, and the State Department gave its formal authorisation about two months later.

Judge Talwani issued the initial delay after the Taylors’ legal team said that the US could be preparing to hand their clients over to the Japanese government within hours of the State Department’s authorisation in October. In court, the defence cited reports that Japanese prisoners had been “interrogated day and night” without lawyers present and kept in solitary confinement in tiny cells. They cast the Taylors’ impending extradition as a human rights issue, comparing Japan’s criminal justice system with “that of an authoritarian regime”.

At a hearing on November 5, Judge Talwani asked for documentation showing that the State Department had considered the possibility that the Taylors could be tortured. Less than a week later, prosecutors filed the document, signed by the deputy secretary of state, although the Taylors’ lawyers argued that it did not meet the legal requirements for protecting Americans from torture.

Lawyers for the Taylors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a Box

The Taylors' arguments in court echoed criticisms of Japan's criminal justice system that Mr Ghosn made repeatedly since he was arrested on charges of financial misconduct. He fled Japan with the help of the Taylors while he was out on bail and awaiting trial. He was concealed in a box for musical equipment and smuggled on to a plane. He is a fugitive in Lebanon, and claimed in December that Nissan had conspired against him to falsify allegations.

Michael Taylor gave a detailed interview to Vanity Fair describing how he planned the operation. But after the Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts, they argued in federal court that helping someone jump bail is not a crime in Japan.

In September, however, US Judge Donald Cabell in Boston approved the extradition request, ruling that it was not 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,” Mr Cabell said.

The Taylors employed lobbyists in Washington to urge the State Department and the White House not to move forward with the extradition, highlighting Michael Taylor's service as a Green Beret and his career rescuing kidnapped children in the Middle East. But the campaign was always a long shot, and the State Department approved the extradition request in October.