By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday will hear arguments over whether two Massachusetts men can be extradited to Japan to face charges that they helped former Nissan Motor Co Ltd <7201.T> Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee the country to avoid facing financial charges.
U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, have been held without bail since their arrests May after being accused of smuggling Ghosn out of Japan in December in a box on a private jet.
U.S. prosecutors say the Taylors facilitated “one of the most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history,” allowing Ghosn to flee to Lebanon, his childhood home, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Ghosn fled on Dec. 29, 2019, while awaiting trial on charges that he engaged in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan’s financial statements. Ghosn denies wrongdoing.
Prosecutors said both the elder Taylor, a private security specialist, and his son received more than $1.3 million from Ghosn and his family members for their services.
The Taylors have argued they cannot be extradited because the charges against them are fatally flawed, as Japanese penal code does not make it a criminal offense to help someone “bail jump” or escape unless that person is in custody.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell, who will consider whether they can be extradited, has expressed doubts about that argument.
In considering whether the Taylors deserved bail, Cabell last month said their argument ignored other “unambiguous” language in the penal code that allows people to face charges if they enable someone’s escape.
The Taylors’ lawyers say that conclusion was based on an incomplete record. Should the court agree they can be extradited, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would have the final say on whether to surrender them to Japan.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)