An Escape Plot Revealed and Two Americans Arrested
Michael L. Taylor and his son, Peter M. Taylor, were arrested by U.S. authorities for their alleged roles in helping Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan, according to The Wall Street Journal. The two men’s attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Carlos Ghosn, a former chief executive and chairman of Nissan Motor Co., had been charged in Japan with financial crimes and escaped from the country in late December. He appeared in Lebanon and said he had fled Japan because he didn’t feel that he was able to get a fair trial there.
Michael Taylor helped Mr. Ghosn out of Japan inside a musical equipment box. Mr. Ghosn changed planes in Turkey and remains in Lebanon. He has refused to discuss the details of his escape.
In January, a Japanese court issued arrest warrants for Mr. Taylor, his son, and Lebanese-born U.S. citizen George Zayek on suspicion of violating Japan’s immigration-control laws by allegedly helping Mr. Ghosn to escape.
According to court documents, Michael Taylor flew to Boston in February. His son flew to Boston on March 22. Federal prosecutors said they were arrested early Wednesday in the Massachusetts town.
The initial hearing was conducted by video on Wednesday afternoon. Judge Donald L. Cabell said that “formal hearings on continued detention for the pair would be held later.” Japan has yet to issue a formal extradition request and has 45 days to do so.
Federal prosecutors said Michael Taylor’s alleged involvement in the Ghosn plot “presents an enormous risk of flight” and “demonstrates his aptitude for hatching escape plans on a grand scale and his blatant disrespect for bond conditions.”
Based on the Japanese government investigation, prosecutors provided details of the alleged escape in the complaints and accompanying court filings. Prosecutors said that Peter Taylor traveled to Japan three times in the months leading up to Mr. Ghosn’s escape.
In late December, Peter Taylor allegedly received Mr. Ghosn’s luggage at a Tokyo hotel. Mr. Ghosn then arrived and allegedly went to Peter Taylor’s room to change clothes. Meanwhile, Michael Taylor and George Zayek arrived in Osaka by private jet from Dubai. The two men brought two large musical instrument boxes and allegedly told airport workers that they were musicians.
According to surveillance videos, the pair then went to Peter Taylor’s hotel room and met with Mr. Ghosn. Later that evening, Michael Taylor, Mr. Zayek, and Mr. Ghosn arrived at the Osaka airport. “Their baggage passed through the security check without being screened with Mr. Ghosn hiding in one of the two large black boxes,” according to a court document.
Once in Turkey, Mr. Ghosn then boarded a private plane for Lebanon, while Michael Taylor and Mr. Zayek took a commercial flights to Lebanon.
It isn’t clear what Michael Taylor and his associates were paid for their alleged roles in the plot. Mr. Zayek worked with Michael Taylor’s security company and worked in private security with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq before.
Michael Taylor previously played a role in the 2009 rescue of New York Times reporter David Rohde from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan. He also served time in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to a bid-rigging investigation.
Earlier this year, Michael Taylor told the Journal that he “learned about Carlos Ghosn’s plight, and felt very much like him, in the sense that we were both held hostage in an unfair legal system.”
The Turkish prosecutors accused seven people in connection with the Ghosn case, including four pilots, an airline manager, and two flight attendants. They said further investigation was necessary to determine the alleged roles of Messrs. Taylor and Zayek.