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Two Americans Sentenced to Prison for Role in Smuggling Nissan Executive out of Japan in a Box

TOKYO — The Japanese capital is undergoing a resurgence. On Monday, a Japanese court sentenced two Americans to prison for their role in assisting the former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in evading arrest and fleeing the country.

Michael Taylor, 60, was sentenced to two years in prison, while his son, Peter Maxwell Taylor, 28, was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison. As he awaited trial in Japan on charges of financial wrongdoing, the men assisted in smuggling Mr. Ghosn onto a private jet and whisking him away to Lebanon for detention.

During a court hearing in Tokyo in June, the men admitted to their involvement in the escape attempt. According to local news reports, when the judge handed down the sentence, he stated that the defendants’ actions had caused “extreme damage” to the Japanese justice system and that they would be forced to serve time in prison “unavoidably.”

Mr. Ghosn fled Japan just before the start of the New Year’s celebrations in 2019. As a result of his multiple arrests, he was released on bail, believing that Japan’s justice system would never provide him with an impartial trial.

The Taylors assisted him in planning and executing an escape, which included concealing himself in a box and being placed on a flight to Turkey, then to Beirut, as part of the plan.

The father and son eventually returned to the United States, where they were apprehended by American authorities in the spring of 2020. They were handed over to Japan in March after months of unsuccessful attempts to prevent their extradition. They were tried three months later.

The Taylors expressed regret for their role in the escape during a court appearance last month.

As of now, Mr. Ghosn is in Lebanon, where he is engaged in a public relations campaign aimed at rehabilitating his image and drawing attention to what he perceives to be shortcomings in Japan’s justice system. In his own words, he has stated that he has done nothing wrong and that the charges brought against him are the result of corporate intrigue backed by the Japanese government.

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, which effectively shields Mr. Ghosn from suffering the same fate as the Taylor family.

Another former Nissan executive, an American named Greg Kelly, is currently on trial in Japan on charges of concealing Mr. Ghosn’s compensation. Mr. Ghosn’s compensation was concealed by Mr. Kelly. He maintains his innocence.


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