A daring escape: Ex-Nissan chief flees Japan ahead of trial
TOKYO — In a daring escape that confounded authorities, Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn skipped bail while awaiting trial in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct and reappeared in Lebanon, where he said Tuesday that he had fled to avoid “political persecution.”
Ghosn, who is of Lebanese origin and holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports, disclosed his location in a statement through his representatives but did not say how he managed to get out of Japan, where he had been under surveillance. He promised to talk to reporters next week.
“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, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” the statement said.
Speaking anonymously, prosecutors in Japan told Japanese media they did not know how Ghosn got out. His lawyer also denied all knowledge of the escape, saying he was stunned. Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon, which said Ghosn had entered the country legally and there was no reason to take any action against him.
“He is home,” Ghosn’s friend, television host Ricardo Karam said in a message. “It’s a big adventure.”
Karam said Ghosn arrived in Lebanon on Monday morning, but declined to elaborate. The Lebanon-based newspaper Al-Joumhouriya said Ghosn arrived in Beirut from Turkey aboard a private jet.
Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 and was expected to face trial in April 2020. He posted $14 million bail on two separate instances after he was arrested a second time on additional charges, and released again.
Prosecutors fought his release, but a court granted him bail on condition that he be monitored and not meet with his wife, Carole, who is also of Lebanese origin. Recently, the court allowed them to speak by video.
This March 2019, file photo shows former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn (right) and his wife Carole in Tokyo.