Lawyers Say Men Charged in Ghosn Escape Aren't a Flight Risk

Michael and Peter Taylor have been locked up in a Massachusetts jail since their arrest in May.

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks to Japanese media during an interview in Beirut, Jan. 10, 2020.
Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks to Japanese media during an interview in Beirut, Jan. 10, 2020.
Meika Fujio/Kyodo News via AP

A U.S. magistrate judge improperly denied release to a father and son wanted by Japan on charges that they helped sneak former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of that country, their attorneys said Tuesday.

Lawyers for Michael and Peter Taylor urged U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to immediately free the men on bail. Their lawyers insisted the Taylors have no plans to flee the U.S. as they fight their extradition to Japan, noting that the men returned to Massachusetts from Lebanon earlier this year, even though they knew Japan was seeking their arrest.

"If he manages to flee, he faces the life of exile, he faces the life as a fugitive," attorney James Ulwick said of Peter Taylor. “Where would he go to?"

The Taylors have been locked up in a Massachusetts jail since their arrest in May. Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell denied them bail earlier this month, saying they pose a flight risk.

Japan is asking the U.S. to hand over Michael Taylor, a 59-year-old U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, and his 27-year-old son Peter Taylor so they can be tried on charges that they smuggled Ghosn out of the country in a box last year while he was out on bail and awaiting trial on financial misconduct allegations.

Bank records show Ghosn wired more than $860,000 to a company linked to Peter Taylor in October 2019, prosecutors said in court documents. Ghosn's son also made cryptocurrency payments totaling about $500,000 to Peter Taylor in the first five months of this year, prosecutors say.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hassink said the Taylors are asking the court to believe that they won't vanish while Japan tries to extradite them, when their actions in Ghosn's case have shown a complete disregard for the rule of law.

They're accused of “entering Japan with the sole purpose of helping a multimillionaire accused of financial crimes, Carlos Ghosn, escape from prosecution," Hassink said.

“Their efforts required months of planning, millions of dollars and it garnered worldwide attention. Despite these facts, the Taylors ask this court to trust them,” he said.

Talwani seemed skeptical of the Taylors' argument for release. She noted that part of their defense against extradition is that Ghosn's actions of skipping bail are not a crime in Japan, and therefore helping someone escape while they are out on bail isn't a crime either.

“It's hard to equate that with the idea that bail here would be something that would be respected," the judge said.

Talwani did not issue a ruling during Tuesday's hearing but said she would have one “shortly.”

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