US said to hand over men accused of helping Carlos Ghosn escape

The father-and-son duo accused of orchestrating the daring escape of former Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn from Japan have reportedly been handed over by the US government to face charges there.

Michael Taylor, 60, a former Green Beret-turned-security contractor, and his son, Peter, had been fighting extradition to Japan since their arrest outside Boston last May. Taylor warned in a recent interview with the Associated Press that he feared that he and son would be treated unfairly, and possibly tortured, by Japanese authorities. 

But the US Supreme Court last month rejected an emergency petition filed by their lawyers, clearing the way for them to face charges there.

The two men were turned over to Japanese authorities early Monday, their lawyer told the AP. The lawyer, Paul Kelly, did not immediately return calls and emails.

Japanese authorities have accused the Taylors of leading an operation in December 2019 to smuggle Ghosn out of the country in a musical equipment case that had special air holes drilled into it. At the time, the former Nissan executive was under house arrest in Japan, awaiting trial on financial charges.

The plan involved whisking Ghosn on a bullet train from Tokyo to an airport with lighter security in Osaka, and then taking him by private jet first to Turkey and then his native Lebanon, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn, who has remained in Beirut, has denied the financial charges, and said he fled because he would not have received a fair trial in Japan.

Before allegedly taking part in the Ghosn escape, Michael Taylor specialised in extracting hostages and abducted children held in the Middle East, and performed undercover work there for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

He also spent 14 months in prison in Utah for bribery and kickbacks in connection with $54m in US security contracts in Afghanistan. Years earlier, he had brushes with the law as a private investigator in Boston.

In interviews, Taylor, whose wife is Lebanese, said he was motivated to help Ghosn out of principle, not profit.

The Department of Justice declined to comment. For security reasons, it does not typically discuss the timing of extradition handovers. 

A court in Istanbul last month handed down prison sentences to three employees of the Turkish airline that ferried Ghosn out of Japan. 

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