A former Green Beret and his son accused of smuggling ex-Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of Japan in a box are fighting their extradition to the country, arguing the offense is not a crime there.
Michael and Peter Taylor are wanted in Japan on allegations that they helped Ghosn flee the country in December while he was out on bail and awaiting trial on financial misconduct allegations.
But lawyers for the Taylors said in a legal document filed Monday that “bail jumping" is not a crime in Japan and, therefore, helping someone evade their bail conditions isn't a crime either. The attorneys accused U.S. authorities of "attempting to transform Japanese law to criminalize the act of helping someone engage in an act that is not itself criminal.”
“Japan has never prosecuted anyone, including Ghosn, for ‘escaping’ bail conditions,” they wrote. “To the contrary, in the wake of Ghosn’s departure from Japan, numerous news articles have reported on the fact that what Mr. Ghosn did was not a crime.”
At the very least, the Taylors should be released from jail while they challenge the extradition because they don't pose a risk of flight or danger to the community, the lawyers told the judge.
Michael Taylor, a 59-year-old former Green Beret and private security specialist, and Peter Taylor, 27, were arrested last month in the town of Harvard, Massachusetts.
The defense lawyers called Michael Taylor a “decorated veteran who has served his country admirably,” and his son an “impressive recent college graduate, with no criminal history whatsoever.”
Authorities say the Taylors helped sneak Ghosn out of the Japan on a private jet with former Nissan boss tucked away in a large box. The flight went first to Turkey, then to Lebanon, where Ghosn has citizenship but which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Ghosn said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions.
Ghosn has said he is innocent of allegations he under-reported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He says the compensation was never decided on or received, and that the Nissan payments were for legitimate business purposes.
It’s not clear yet how Ghosn hooked up with the Taylors.
The security business that Michael Taylor and a partner set up decades ago was initially focused on private investigations, but their caseload grew through corporate work and unofficial referrals from the State Department and FBI, including parents whose children had been taken overseas by former spouses.
The elder Taylor has been hired by parents to rescue abducted children, gone undercover for the FBI in a sting on a Massachusetts drug gang and worked as a contractor for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last assignment had landed him in a Utah jail for 14 months, caught in a federal contract fraud case that upended Taylor’s family and finances before he agreed to plead guilty to two charges.