Two men suspected of having organized the escape of Carlos Ghosn from Japan in a box of musical equipment were arrested Wednesday morning near Boston by the American police. Michael Taylor, a former member of the Green Berets, the U.S. Special Forces, and his son Peter Taylor, were the subject of an extradition request issued by Japanese justice for their role in the exfiltration of Ghosn on December 29, 2019.
The arrest warrant also concerned an American citizen of Lebanese origin, George-Antoine Zayek. All three are accused of violating Japanese immigration laws by helping Carlos Ghosn to leave the country.
The two were arrested at the home of Michael Taylor at Harvard, near Boston, while Peter Taylor was preparing to leave for Lebanon. Their arrest was requested by the prosecutor pending extradition hearings, on the grounds that Michael Taylor “Presents a huge risk of flight”. His alleged participation in the Ghosn exfiltration “Demonstrates his ability to draw up daring escape plans and his flagrant lack of respect for conditions of supervised freedom”, said the prosecutor.
Accused of financial embezzlement, Carlos Ghosn, the boss of Renault-Nissan, was arrested in November 2018 and imprisoned by the Japanese justice system. Released on bail and placed under house arrest pending his trial, he fled in incredible conditions on December 29, 2019, hidden in a box of musical equipment embarked on a private plane bound for Turkey. The next day he arrived in Lebanon, where he remains.
Contacts in Lebanon
The Japanese authorities have reconstructed the course of this escape, and established the respective roles of the three men who mounted this operation. Former Green Beret and operational faller, Michael Taylor, 59, had been deployed to Lebanon in the 1980s. After leaving the United States military and training the Christian forces of the Lebanese Forces, he returned to private security, and had participated in various clandestine operations, often in cooperation with the American authorities.
He had been recruited by the American newspaper The New York Times to try to organize the escape of one of their journalists, David Rhode, captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2008. He had also managed to organize the escape of a family held by an abusive husband in Lebanon. Michael Taylor had to cease operations after trying to bribe an FBI agent after illegally obtaining a security contract. Sentenced to prison, he had converted to his release in the marketing of vitamin drinks.
His somewhat particular know-how and his contacts in Lebanon, where his wife is from, had led him to successfully carry out the clandestine exfiltration of Carlos Ghosn. This operation had a worldwide media impact. The former Green Beret and his son are now at risk of having to answer to Japan, the country with which the United States signed an extradition agreement.
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