US Man Who Helped Ghosn Flee Isn't Doing Well in Prison: Lawyers

Michael Taylor, who aided Nissan chair's escape from Japan, reportedly got frostbite in Fuchu jail
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2021 1:15 AM CDT
Updated Feb 4, 2022 8:55 AM CST
American Father and Son Jailed in Japan Over Ghosn Escape
This Dec. 30, 2019, image from security camera video shows Michael Taylor, center, and George-Antoine Zayek at passport control at Istanbul Airport in Turkey.   (DHA via AP, File)

Update: The American dad sentenced to two years in a Fuchu prison for helping Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn escape Japan is suffering behind bars, according to his legal team. One of Michael Taylor's US-based attorneys, Paul Kelly, tells the New York Times the facility's lack of heating led to a frostbite diagnosis in January for the 61-year-old, who experienced red, blistered fingers. His legal team continues to lobby to have Taylor and his 28-year-old son, Peter, also imprisoned in Japan, transferred to a US prison. Critics says there's "an almost ubiquitous lack of heating and cooling" in Japan's prison system, but Japan's corrections department tells the Times inmates receive the clothing, blankets, and medical care they need to protect them from the cold. Our original story from July 2021 follows:

A Tokyo court handed down prison terms for the American father and son accused of helping Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, escape to Lebanon while awaiting trial in Japan. Michael Taylor was sentenced Monday to two years in prison, while his son Peter was sentenced to one year and eight months, the AP reports. They were charged with helping a criminal in the December 2019 escape of Ghosn, who hid in a big box that was flown on a private jet via Turkey to Lebanon. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan. In handing down the sentencing, Chief Judge Hideo Nirei said they had committed a serious violation of the law, as now there's next to no chance of putting Ghosn on trial. "This case enabled Ghosn, a defendant of a serious crime, to escape overseas," he said.

Although the defense argued the two had been merely used by Ghosn, they clearly were involved, regardless of who was making the decisions, he said. Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of underreporting his compensation and of breach of trust in using Nissan Motor Co. money for personal gain. He says he is innocent, and he left because he could not expect a fair trial in Japan. The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts in May 2020 and extradited to Japan in March. During their trial, they apologized, saying they had been misled by Ghosn about Japan’s criminal justice system. Michael Taylor sobbed and said he was “broke,” denying they had benefited monetarily because the $1.3 million prosecutors said Ghosn paid them just covered expenses. But Nirei, the judge, said the court found that the motive was money. The Taylors can appeal within two weeks, he said.

(More Carlos Ghosn stories.)

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