January 30, 2020 / 5:33 AM / 18 days ago

Japan issues arrest warrants for ex-U.S. soldier, two others for Ghosn escape

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese authorities on Thursday issued arrest warrants for a former U.S. special forces soldier and two other men on suspicion of smuggling former Nissan Motor Co boss Carlos Ghosn out of Japan.

Warrants were issued for former U.S. Green Beret Michael Taylor and two other men, George-Antoine Zayek and Peter Taylor, prosecutors said in a statement. A warrant was also issued for Ghosn for illegally leaving the country, prosecutors said.

Ghosn fled to Lebanon, his childhood home, at the end of last year, while he was awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.

The arrest warrants come days after prosecutors searched the Tokyo office of Ghosn’s former lawyer.

Lebanon and Japan have about 40 days to decide whether Ghosn will be extradited to Japan or stand trial in Lebanon, Reuters reported last week.

The two countries have no extradition treaty and Lebanon does not typically hand over its nationals. Ghosn’s legal team is hoping to hold the trial in Lebanon, where the former auto executive has deep ties and hopes to clear his name.

Ghosn has struck out at what he has called Japan’s unjust judicial system and said the alternative to fleeing would have been to spend the rest of his life languishing in Tokyo without a fair trial.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Junko Fujita; Editing by David Dolan, Christian Schmollinger and Lincoln Feast.

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