National

Turkey detains pilots over Ghosn's escape through Istanbul

Reuters, Kyodo

Turkish police detained seven people, including four pilots, on Thursday in an investigation into how ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn transited through Istanbul en route to Lebanon after fleeing Japan, said a police spokeswoman.

She said the other detainees were two airport ground workers and one cargo worker and all seven were expected to give statements before a court Thursday.

Media reports said Turkey’s interior ministry had begun an investigation into Ghosn’s transit. The former Nissan boss revealed Tuesday he had fled to Beirut to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system.

People familiar with the matter said that Ghosn, one of the world’s best-known executives, had arrived in Beirut on a private jet from Istanbul on Monday.

Hurriyet news website, citing an interior ministry official, said Turkish border police were not notified about Ghosn’s arrival, and neither his entry nor exit were registered.

A plane carrying Ghosn arrived at 5:30 a.m. Monday at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Hurriyet reported, adding that prosecutors ordered the arrests after widening their investigation.

Flight tracking data from that time suggests that Ghosn used two different planes to fly into Istanbul and then on to Lebanon.

Japanese authorities allowed Ghosn to carry a spare French passport in a locked case while out on bail, shedding some light on how he managed his escape to Lebanon.

The businessman, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, was smuggled out of Tokyo by a private security company days ago, the culmination of a plan that was crafted over three months.

Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 and faces four charges, including hiding income and enriching himself through payments to car dealerships in the Middle East. He denies the charges.