Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn fled Japan with help from former US Green Beret, others
Ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn fled from Japan in an audio box with the help of a former US Army Special Forces officer, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report revealed on Friday.
Former Green Beret Michael Taylor, George Antoine Zayek, and an employee at the Turkish private jet operator MNG Jet helped Ghosn fly out of Japan, according to unnamed sources interviewed by the WSJ.
Taylor and Zayek had traveled from Dubai on a Bombardier Global Express private jet on December 28, 2019, the sources said.
The plane then landed in Osaka International Airport at 10:16 a.m. on December 29, 2019.
Meanwhile, a masked Ghosn was seen in surveillance footage leaving his home in Tokyo, where he was awaiting trial for financial misconduct, at 2:30 p.m., Japanese Asahi newspaper reported.
The sources did not reveal how Ghosn made the 300 mile journey from Tokyo to Osaka, or how the former automobile company CEO was able to avoid security checks.
However, Ghosn might have been able to board the jet in the box with the two men because VIP travelers are often exempt from security inspections, Kenji Takanishi, a spokesman for the operator of Osaka’s Kansai International Airport told WSJ.
His escape from Osaka to Istanbul could have been made easier with the help of the employee who falsified lease records to exclude Ghosn’s name from the documents when the private jet stopped at Istanbul before continuing the trip to Lebanon.
MNG Jet announced on Friday that it filed a criminal complaint after an internal inquiry revealed that an employee was involved in the escape plan.
The employee, Okan Kosemen, had loaded the audio box, which had holes in the bottom so Ghosn could breathe, onto the jet. He then boarded alongside the former Nissan chairman, according to the report.
Taylor and Zayek had left the jet and boarded a commercial flight to Lebanon, airport records showed.
Turkish authorities questioned the employee along with eight other people who were connected on Friday, and prosecutors charged Kosman and four pilots with migrant smuggling, the WSJ reported.
At around 8 a.m. on December 30, 2019, the ex-Nissan boss had successfully arrived in Beirut undetected.
Lebanese television station MTV revealed that Ghosn was in Beirut for several hours before the Japan ambassador to Lebanon was informed of his arrival by the station.
A photo released on Thursday showed Ghosn in Lebanon celebrating New Year’s Eve with his family, according to French media.
“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied,” Ghosn said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I have not fled justice - I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week,” he added.