BOSTON/ISTANBUL – Lawyers for the former Green Beret and his son wanted by Japan for allegedly helping former Nissan Motor Co. boss Carlos Ghosn flee the country argued Monday that U.S. authorities had wrongly arrested them for aiding a crime they say does not exist in Japan: bail jumping.
In a motion, lawyers for Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, asked a federal judge in Boston to quash the U.S. warrants issued last month for their arrests or release them on bail while their extradition case proceeds.
U.S. authorities arrested the Taylors in May at Japan’s request for allegedly smuggling Ghosn out of the country in a box while he was out on bail awaiting trial on financial charges.
Their lawyers on Monday argued that neither bail jumping nor helping someone do so are crimes in Japan.
The defense attorneys said that fact is “so far beyond dispute that the Japanese government has begun considering whether it should amend the law to make such conduct a crime.”
While Japan has issued arrest warrants for the Taylors, their lawyers said the crime stated in the Japanese warrants is an immigration offense, a non-extraditable misdemeanor.
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 he says he did not commit.
Meanwhile, a judge in Turkey ruled on Monday to keep five people in jail at the start of their trial over former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul, 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.
At the time of the incident, MNG Jet said the executive acted without the knowledge of the company and that it had filed a criminal complaint regarding the illegal use of its aircraft.
“We expect our client to be acquitted in the end,” said Mehmet Fatih Danaci, a lawyer for jet operator executive Okan Kosemen, adding that even if found guilty and handed the maximum sentence, Kosemen should only serve a short time in jail.
In April, Turkey’s parliament passed a law allowing the release of tens of thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding in jails and protect detainees from the coronavirus outbreak.
“Even if convicted of this crime, our client, who denies this accusation, has nearly served the time he needed to remain in jail under the recently imposed amnesty,” Danaci said.
The first full hearing in the case is set to be held July 3.