Two Turkish pilots and a third man have been found guilty of helping to smuggle high-profile fugitive Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon in a musical instrument case. This is such an odd story with so many twists and turns.
Turkish Pilots Found Guilty Of Smuggling Carlos Ghosn From Japan To Lebanon
Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chief, was charged with misappropriating Nissan funds and placed in a Japanese prison in April 2019. He was later released on bail, contracted with an American mercenary to get him out of Japan, and in December 2019 was smuggled out of Japan to Lebanon via Turkey. That, of course, broke his bail conditions and Ghosn is now wanted international fugitive.
Michael Taylor, a former U.S. Special Forces operative, and his son Peter arranged the secret operation. They contracted with MNG Jet, a business jet charter service based in Turkey, to travel from Osaka to Beirut via Istanbul. Ghosn was placed in a musical instrument case, taken through security, and loaded onto the aircraft.
In Istanbul, he was again smuggled across the tarmac and onto a waiting jet departing to Beirut. Ghosn holds citizenship from Brazil (his place of birth), France, and Lebanon. Since Japan and Lebanon do not have an extradition treaty, Ghosn has remained a free man within the Lebanese borders, but is essentially trapped.
The father-son Taylor team now face extradition to Japan after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down their appeal and now a Turkish court has sentenced two pilots and one additional employee of to four years and two months in prison for their role in smuggling Ghosn out of Japan. They have also been fined TRY31,240 (~USD4,330) each.
All there insist they innocent and have appealed their conviction. One defendant claimed they were just flying the plane and had no idea there was a fugitive onboard:
“They ask us to fly the plane and that is what we do.”
Two other pilots and two flight attendants were acquitted.
What a case of international mystery and intrigue! The pilots are free while awaiting their appeal. I’m not sure I buy their defense, but unless it can be proven that they were aware of what was going on, this is a bit different than the “I was only following orders” (non-)defense.
What do you make of this strange case?
image: Victor / Flickr