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article imageUS approves extradition to Japan over Ghosn escape

By AFP     Oct 29, 2020 in World

The United States has given the green light to extradite a former special forces soldier and his son to Japan for assisting auto executive Carlos Ghosn's daring escape, although a judge Thursday put their transfer on hold.

Former Green Beret Michael Taylor and his son Peter were arrested in May in the Boston area on a warrant from Japan, but have appealed not to be handed over.

A court document showed that Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun agreed to Japan's request, saying the State Department had "carefully and thoroughly" considered the case.

"I confirm that the decision to surrender the Taylors to Japan complies with applicable international obligations as well as domestic statutes and regulations," said the letter from State Department legal advisor Karen Johnson.

But Indira Talwani, a federal judge in Massachusetts, stayed the extradition to give the court time to review the Taylors' emergency petition.

The Taylors said they had received an email after 10 pm on Wednesday informing them they would be sent on a plane from Boston to Tokyo at 1 pm Thursday.

The duo, working with a Lebanese man, George-Antoine Zayek, are accused of posing as musicians and whisking Ghosn off on a private jet in a large black case of the kind used to transport audio equipment.

Ghosn had led Nissan for nearly two decades, earning celebrity status as a rare foreign executive to thrive in Japan, until he was arrested in 2018 on allegations of financial crimes, which he denies.

Ghosn, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, made the audacious escape when he was out on bail and turned up in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

The Taylors argued that they would not enjoy a fair trial in Japan and would face "oppressive and punitive" actions in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Lawyers for the father and son called the State Department decision "arbitrary and capricious" and in violation of US laws as well as the US extradition treaty with Japan, which they said had not presented sufficient evidence in the case.

A State Department spokesperson offered no further detail on the decision, saying that it does not discuss pending extradition requests.

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