Interpol issued a Red Notice Thursday for former Nissan car company chairman Carlos Ghosn. The notice is a request to law enforcement agencies around the world to arrest a wanted person.
Ghosn faces charges of financial wrongdoing in Japan. His sudden arrival in Lebanon on Monday, after a stop in Turkey, shocked officials in Japan and raised questions around the world.
The former Nissan chief was set to go on trial in April. He was permitted to stay at home under supervision after posting a $14-million bail.
Ghosn said in a statement that he had fled Japan to avoid “political persecution” in a “rigged Japanese justice system.”
Reaction in Lebanon
Ghosn is often credited with helping French car maker Renault and Japan’s Nissan recover from near bankruptcy. He is a national hero to many people in Lebanon.
That country’s justice minister, Albert Serhan, told The Associated Press that Lebanon “will carry out its duties.” But he said that Lebanon has not received an official extradition request from Japan. And he noted that the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.
Serhan added that Ghosn entered Lebanon on a legal passport and there is no charge against Ghosn in Lebanon.
Born in Brazil to Lebanese parents and educated in France, Ghosn holds passports from all three countries.
Investigation in Turkey
How Ghosn managed to flee Japan is still a mystery to many, including his own lawyers and officials in Japan and Turkey.
Airline flight data suggest Ghosn traveled on two different planes -- one from Japan to Turkey and another from Turkey to Lebanon.
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that a plane carrying Ghosn landed at Istanbul’s airport on the morning of December 29. Ghosn did not register upon landing and left on another plane for Lebanon.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Thursday that Turkish officials had detained seven people in connection with Ghosn’s escape. A Turkish police spokesperson said the seven included four pilots and three airport workers. The Reuters news agency reported that all seven were expected to give statements in court on Thursday.
Searching for evidence in Japan
In Japan, officials entered Ghosn’s home in Tokyo on Thursday to look for evidence. The search went on as government offices in Japan are still closed this week for the New Year holiday.
Ghosn’s lawyers in Japan said they had no knowledge of his escape and they had all three of his passports. Japanese public broadcaster NHK TV, however, reported that Ghosn had a second French passport.
Ghosn was first arrested in Japan in November 2018. He faces four charges of financial wrongdoings, including hiding his earnings through payments to car businesses in the Middle East.
At the time of his arrest, Ghosn was head of both Renault and Nissan automobile companies. He said Japanese officials created false charges against him to try to stop a possible merger between Nissan and Renault.
On Thursday, Ghosn tried to distance his family from any part in his escape. He called reports that his family was involved with his leaving Japan “false and misleading.”
“I alone organized my departure,” Ghosn said.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do adapted this story from the Associated Press and Reuters news reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
bail - n. an amount of money given to a court to allow a prisoner to leave jail and return later for a trial
persecution – n. the act of treating someone cruelly or unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs
rig – v. to control or affect (something, such as a game or election) in a dishonest way in order to get a desired result
extradition – n. the act of sending a person who has been accused of a crime to another state or country for trial
merger – n. the act or process of combining two or more businesses into one busines
departure – n. the act of leaving a place