U.S. authorities on Wednesday arrested a former Green Beret and his son for allegedly assisting former Nissan Motor Co. boss Carlos Ghosn in escaping from Japan late last year while he awaited trial on financial misconduct charges.
Michael Taylor, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, and his son Peter Taylor have been wanted by Japan for their involvement in the dramatic escape of the fallen auto industry executive in late December.
Japan, which has an extradition treaty with the United States, is expected to make a formal request for the handover of both men.
The two, arrested in Massachusetts, appeared before a district court judge via video link on Wednesday from the location where they are being detained. They wore orange jumpsuits as well as face coverings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hassink said that Japan is moving forward "as quickly as possible" with submitting a formal request to extradite the Taylors, without giving a specific date.
In Tokyo, Takahiro Saito, deputy chief of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, said in a statement released Thursday, "We are making preparations so we can swiftly request their extradition."
Court documents offered details of how Ghosn, who was initially arrested by Tokyo prosecutors in 2018 and released on bail in April the following year, was able to sneak out of Japan by hiding inside a large black box that was brought in by Michael Taylor and another man, George Zayek, who is also wanted by Japan.
The two allegedly traveled on a private jet from Dubai to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture on Dec. 29, the day of the escape, carrying two large black boxes which looked like they were for music equipment.
The two then headed to Tokyo, where they met Ghosn and Peter Taylor, who was already in the Japanese capital. Peter Taylor then separated from the group and got a flight to China, while the other three went to Osaka Prefecture, the documents said.
Michael Taylor and Zayek arrived at Kansai International Airport with luggage, including the two black boxes, one of which contained Ghosn. The baggage passed through the security check without being screened and was loaded onto a private jet.
The jet departed for Turkey, with the two men and Ghosn aboard. Two days later, Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationality, made a public announcement that he was in Lebanon, where he spent his childhood.
In the months leading up to Ghosn's escape, Peter Taylor traveled to Japan at least three times, first in July 2019, and met with Ghosn at least seven times, according to the documents.
The 66-year-old former Nissan chairman faces trial on allegations he misused company funds and understated his remuneration by billions of yen for years. He has denied the allegations and said he fled Japan to escape what he described as a "rigged" justice system.
The Japanese government has been requesting Ghosn's extradition through Interpol, but Lebanon has indicated it is unlikely to hand him over. Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.
As for the Taylors, the court is expected to decide whether or not they are extraditable. The U.S. State Department will then decide whether they should in fact be extradited.