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2 Americans Accused Of Helping Carlos Ghosn Escape Are Extradited To Japan

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

An American father and son who allegedly helped former Nissan Motors Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan have been extradited to Tokyo, where they face up to three years in prison if convicted.

Ghosn, an internationally wanted fugitive, fled Japan in a daring December 2019 escape as he awaited trial on financial misconduct charges. He apparently passed undetected through airport security before entering a private jet. Ghosn ultimately arrived in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan. Ghosn is a citizen of Lebanon, France and Brazil.

Japanese authorities believe U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter were paid at least $1.3 million to help Ghosn flee.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed to NPR Tuesday that the two men were extradited. According to Reuters, they were met by authorities Tuesday at Tokyo's Narita airport, where they were escorted via bus to a detention center.

The two men had been held in a Massachusetts jail since May as they fought extradition. Their lawyers argued they could not be prosecuted in Japan for helping someone jump bail and that they would be subject to "mental and physical torture" in the custody of Japanese authorities, according to The Associated Press.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the Taylors' extradition, denying a request for an emergency stay of a lower court order allowing them to be sent to Japan.

"This is a sad day for the family, and for all who believe that veterans deserve better treatment from their own country," their lawyer, Paul Kelly, said in a statement Monday.

Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, worked as a private security consultant, specializing in rescuing abducted children and extracting people from complex situations abroad. Taylor does not deny helping Ghosn, even providing details of the operation in an interview published last year in Vanity Fair.

Ghosn, who is credited with helping lead Nissan back from the brink of bankruptcy, was nonetheless ousted by the automaker in November 2018 amid allegations of financial impropriety. Less than a month after he was forced out of Nissan, Japanese authorities charged him with underreporting his personal income, and later of breach of trust and misappropriation of Nissan funds.

Following his escape from Japan, Ghosn held a news conference in Lebanon to complain about his treatment in prison.

He said during his 130 days in custody, he had been subjected to "solitary confinement," and "interrogated days and night up to eight hours, obviously without the presence of a lawyer."

"Why am I being treated like a terrorist in Japan, like somebody who's going to hurt other people? What did I do to deserve this treatment? That's what I don't understand," he said.

Japan has been criticized by rights groups such as Human Rights Watch for its system of "hostage justice." Human Rights Watch says suspects are subjected to harsh interrogations, denied the right to an attorney and can be detained without bail for up to 23 days before indictment.

Ghosn, who also led the French automaker Renault, is also reportedly facing legal issues in France for alleged tax evasion and money laundering, according to AP.

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