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I should never have been arrested: Carlos Ghosn

AP/Beirut
Filed on January 8, 2020 | Last updated on January 8, 2020 at 05.34 pm
Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor, Renault, Mitsubishi

Ghosn's appearance is his first in public since he smuggled himself from Tokyo to Beirut.

Nissan's fugitive ex-boss, Carlos Ghosn, on Wednesday described his detention conditions in Japan, from which he fled last month in a daring escape, as a "travesty" against human rights and dignity.

Ghosn held a news conference in Beirut, his first appearance since fleeing Japan last month ahead of his trial for alleged financial misconduct.

The former auto industry titan also dismisses all allegations against him as untrue, saying "I should never have been arrested in the first place".

Ghosn's appearance is his first in public since he smuggled himself from Tokyo to Beirut, arriving in the Lebanese capital where he grew up and is regarded by many as a national hero.

Ghosn's daring and improbable escape has perplexed and embarrassed Japanese authorities after he skipped bail and managed to flee the country despite supposedly rigorous surveillance.

Media reports have said that he left his residence alone, met two men at a Tokyo hotel, and then took a bullet train to Osaka before boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for musical equipment. He flew to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived on December 30.

On Wednesday, Tokyo prosecutors raided a Japanese lawyer's office where Ghosn had visited regularly before he fled. Japanese media reports said prosecutors had likely seized the computer to track down how Ghosn escaped and who might have helped him.

Lebanese authorities have said Ghosn entered the country on a legal passport, casting doubt on the possibility they would hand him over to Japan. Lebanon last week received an Interpol-issued wanted notice - a non-binding request to law enforcement agencies worldwide that they locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive.

Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty, and the Interpol notice does not require Lebanon to arrest him.

Ghosn, who is Lebanese and also holds French and Brazilian passports, was expected to go on trial in Tokyo in April. In statements, he has said he fled to avoid "political persecution" by a "rigged Japanese justice system". He also said that he alone organized his departure from Japan and that his wife, Carole, played no role.

On Tuesday, Tokyo prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn on suspicion of perjury. That charge is not related to his escape. Lebanon's justice minister said Tuesday that Lebanon has not received any request related to that warrant.

Japanese justice officials acknowledge that it's unclear whether the Ghosns can be brought back to Japan to face charges.

Ghosn's former employer, Nissan Motor Co., said it was still pursuing legal action against him despite his escape, adding that Ghosn engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. Ghosn denies all the charges.


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