The State Department approved Japan's request that two men be extradited to face charges for allegedly helping former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee the country while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges, court documents showed Thursday.
However, it is unknown when the actual extradition of the two men -- Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, and his son Peter Taylor -- will take place, as a U.S. federal court approved the same day a last-minute request from their lawyers to stop the U.S. government from turning them over to Japan.
According to the lawyers, the State Department gave its approval to the extradition on Tuesday.
In Tokyo, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa refused to comment on the matter because it "concerns an investigation into a specific case and a procedure in the United States."
The lawyers said in a statement that they have been "actively seeking review and reconsideration" of the department's decision, while denying the two men committed any crime.
The two are being "pursued by Japan in an effort to save face after the departure of Carlos Ghosn from their country," the lawyers said.
They also claimed it would be "a great injustice" for the two U.S. citizens to be surrendered to Japan, especially in light of what they call the country's "persistent refusal to extradite its citizens to the United States, even in the case of serious offenses committed within our borders."
The development came after a federal court in Massachusetts rejected in September the Taylors' objection to their potential extradition at the request of Japanese authorities, following the arrest of the two in the same U.S. state in May.
The State Department was expected to make a final decision on the matter following the court's decision. Tokyo's request for the handover is based on a bilateral extradition treaty.
According to court documents, the two allegedly helped Ghosn, who was initially arrested by Tokyo prosecutors in 2018 and released on bail in April the following year, to sneak out of Japan in December by hiding inside a large black box.
Ghosn fled to Lebanon, where he spent his childhood, via Turkey. Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.
Ghosn, who headed Nissan for nearly two decades, faced trial in Japan on allegations that he misused company funds and understated his remuneration by billions of yen over a period of multiple years.
The 66-year-old has denied the allegations and said he fled Japan to escape what he called a "rigged" justice system.