The lawyers for two United States of America’s citizens accused by Japan of helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee the country last year are seeking their release on the grounds that they were arrested for aiding a crime -bail jumping- that they say does not exist in Japan.
The men, Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, and his son Peter Taylor were arrested in Massachusetts in May at Japan’s request for allegedly smuggling Ghosn out of Japan in a box while he was out on bail awaiting trial on financial charges. Japanese authorities are seeking their extradition.
The plane carrying Ghosn landed first in Istanbul and then Lebanon, his childhood home, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.
Their lawyers on Monday filed a motion with a Federal judge in Boston, Massachusetts, to quash the U.S. warrants issued last month for their arrests or release them on bail while their extradition case proceeds. They argued that neither bail jumping nor helping someone do so are crimes in Japan.
Also on Monday, a Turkish judge ordered that five people accused of aiding Ghosn’s escape remain in jail at the start of their trial, a lawyer for one of the suspects said.
An Executive from Turkish private jet operator MNG Jet and four pilots were detained in early January, shortly after the escape, and were charged with migrant smuggling, a sentence carrying a maximum sentence of eight years in jail.
While Japan has issued arrest warrants for the Taylors, their lawyers told the judge that the crime stated in the Japanese warrants is an immigration offence, a non-extraditable misdemeanour.
The lawyers added that neither Taylor, including Michael, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran who founded a private security company, poses a flight risk requiring them to be held without bail.
The Justice Department and Japanese embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
U.S. authorities arrested the Taylors in Harvard, Massachusetts, on May 20 at the request of Japan, which in January issued arrest warrants for both men in connection with facilitating the Dec. 29, 2019 escape.
Ghosn has said he fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system in Japan, where he faces charges relating to alleged financial crimes, which he denies.
MNG Jet said after details of Ghosn’s escape emerged that the executive had acted without the company’s knowledge and that it had filed a criminal complaint for the illegal use of its aircraft.
“We expect our client to be acquitted in the end,” said Mehmet Fatih Danaci, a lawyer for the MNG executive, Okan Kosemen, adding that even if found guilty and handed a maximum sentence, Kosemen should only serve a short time in jail.
The first full hearing in the case is due to be held on July 3.