Washington – Two men accused of helping former Nissan Motor Co. chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn flee criminal charges in Japan must remain in custody as they fight extradition after a U.S. judge denied them bail.
Former Green Beret Michael Taylor and his son, Peter, were arrested in Massachusetts in May at the request of the Japanese government. U.S. prosecutors had asked that they be denied bail, pointing out that the two allegedly helped carry out one of the “most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history.”
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston on Thursday denied an emergency petition that the Taylors filed this week requesting immediate release in part because of the spread of the coronavirus in the jail where they are being held. She noted that there is a presumption against bail in extradition cases and said the Taylors had not shown they were likely to succeed in ultimately blocking the extradition request from Japan.
Lawyers for the Taylors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ghosn fled Japan in December as he was out on bail awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct. Prosecutors in the U.S. and Japan say that the Taylors helped engineer Ghosn’s spectacular escape, concealing him in a large box for audio equipment and putting him on a charter flight to Turkey, where he switched planes and flew to Lebanon.
Japan responded to the escape by issuing arrest warrants for the former executive and others suspected of aiding him.
In court filings, the Taylors have argued that the arrest warrants don’t justify extradition because helping someone jump bail isn’t a crime under the Japanese penal code. A further charge that the escape violated Japanese immigration laws is only punishable as a misdemeanor and thus not subject to extradition, the Taylors said.
The U.S. government has called the Taylors, who have been held at Norfolk County Correctional Facility outside Boston since their arrest, “exceptionally high” flight risks and said they should be kept behind bars during extradition proceedings. “Michael Taylor is not just capable of fleeing while on bond,” prosecutors wrote in a filing in May. “He is an expert in the subject.”
But lawyers for the Taylors noted that both men voluntarily returned to the U.S. from Lebanon this spring, even after Japan issued its arrest warrants. If the Taylors had wanted to circumvent the judicial process, the lawyers said, they could simply have stayed in Lebanon, which does not have an extradition agreement with Japan. “There is no chance that these guys flee,” one of the Taylors’ lawyers, Paul Kelly, said at a hearing in June.