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Fallen Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn makes improbable 'escape' from Japan

Fallen Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn makes improbable 'escape' from Japan
The former head of Nissan-Renault alliance Carlos Ghosn has fled Japan, where he had been held for more than a year and was set to face trial on criminal charges.

The executive reached Lebanon, one of the countries where he has citizenship. It would be hard for Japan to get the celebrity fugitive back, since Beirut has no extradition agreement with Tokyo.

“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” Ghosn said on Tuesday.

“I have not fled justice - I have escaped injustice and political persecution,” he stated, adding that he will finally use the opportunity to freely communicate with the media starting next week.

It is unclear how one the world’s prominent and most recognizable businessmen managed to get out of Japan, given that he was under police surveillance while out on bail after serving months in a Japanese jail cell on charges of financial wrongdoing. Ghosn needed a court permission to travel even across Japan, not to mention overseas. All his communication channels, including mobile phone and the Internet, were severely restricted.

Interestingly, all Ghosn’s three passports were required to be held by his lawyers, who said they were “surprised” by their client’s “inexcusable” behavior.

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As a French citizen, Ghosn would be able to get consular support from France, junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Tuesday. However, the minister said she was “very surprised” by the news of the escape.

The former Nissan head was arrested in November 2018 and charged with financial misdeeds, including hiding income and enriching himself through payments to dealerships in other countries. During his arrest, Ghosn was subsequently stripped of leadership roles in Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. The former executive denied all the allegations, calling his detention “outrageous and arbitrary.”

Ghosn was the driving force behind the creation of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, and is widely credited for saving Nissan. When Nissan was on the verge of bankruptcy nearly two decades ago, it was Ghosn who suggested bailing out the Japanese carmaker. French Renault bought 36.8 percent of Nissan in 1999, giving birth to the Renault-Nissan alliance and essentially saving the latter from collapse.

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