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Japan seeks arrests of 3 Americans accused of helping Carlos Ghosn escape

Prosecutors want to arrest Michael Taylor, a 59-year-old former Green Beret; his son, Peter Maxwell Taylor, 26; and George Antoine Zayek, 60. The warrant said they helped Ghosn avoid immigration checks and board a private jet in Osaka that took him to Turkey on the first leg of his escape.

January 30, 2020 / 10:10 PM IST

Japanese prosecutors on January 30, issued arrest warrants for three Americans suspected of helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn flee the country, where he was awaiting trial on charges of financial wrongdoing.

Ghosn surprised the world, and embarrassed Japanese authorities, when he slipped out of his home in Tokyo in late December and turned up a day later in Lebanon.

Prosecutors want to arrest Michael Taylor, a 59-year-old former Green Beret; his son, Peter Maxwell Taylor, 26; and George Antoine Zayek, 60. The warrant said they helped Ghosn avoid immigration checks and board a private jet in Osaka that took him to Turkey on the first leg of his escape.

They also issued a new warrant for the arrest of Ghosn, who “illegally left the country” without notifying immigration authorities.

The document was the first official confirmation by Japanese authorities of some of the details of Ghosn’s flight.

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According to the warrant, Michael Taylor and Zayek accompanied Ghosn from Tokyo to Osaka, where they hid him in “portable luggage” and helped smuggle him through a private jet terminal and onto a waiting plane where they accompanied him to Istanbul. Ghosn is believed to have hidden in a large black box typically used for transporting audio equipment.

Michael Taylor is a private-security contractor with extensive contacts in Lebanon dating to the 1980s, when he was deployed to Beirut as part of a team of U.S. Special Forces.

Zayek was born in Lebanon and previously worked with Taylor’s Boston-based security company. The arrest warrant was the first public mention of Peter Taylor’s involvement. All three are believed to be American citizens, prosecutors said. Michael and Peter Taylor and George Zayek have been in the Middle East since Ghosn’s escape, according to a person familiar with the matter. Lawyers for the men could not immediately be reached for comment.

A deputy chief prosecutor, Takahiro Saito, said Peter Taylor had “played an important role in the escape,” having met with Ghosn at least seven times in Tokyo, beginning in July and ending on the day of his escape Dec. 29.

After the private jet landed in Istanbul, Ghosn is believed to have boarded another private jet flight to Beirut.

The warrants were announced a day after prosecutors raided the Tokyo office of Ghosn’s former lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, looking for evidence related to the escape.

c.2020 New York Times News Service.
New York Times
first published: Jan 30, 2020 10:10 pm

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