- Carlos Ghosn managed to escape Japan on a private jet due to a glaring security weakness at a major Japanese airport, The Wall Street Journal and Nikkei Asian Review reported.
- Ghosn was concealed in a crate for transporting musical instruments that was too large for the baggage scanners in the private terminal of Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, the Journal said.
- The crate wasn’t searched, and the former Nissan CEO was able to leave Japan for Lebanon via Turkey entirely undetected on December 29. He had been awaiting trial in Japan.
- The Journal said a 15-strong escape team took 20 trips to Japan to plan the escape, visiting at least 10 airports to search for weaknesses.
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Ghosn fled Japan via private plane on December 29 after he was reportedly smuggled from his Tokyo home by private security operatives, who later hid him in a crate designed for the transport of musical instruments.
But because the crate was too large for the baggage scanner based in the private plane terminal of Kansai International Airport, near Osaka, it went unchecked, and Ghosn undetected.
The case was more than one meter (3.3 feet) tall, Nikkei Asian Review said.
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published a photo of the crate in which Ghosn is purported to have concealed himself.
WSJ has obtained a photo of the audio-equipment case used by Carlos Ghosn to sneak out of Japan. The case has holes drilled in the bottom so Ghosn could breathe. Amazing find by @gauthiervillars https://t.co/XK4sf5x6Dy pic.twitter.com/DcuvsiFXDg
— Mark Maremont (@MarkMaremont) January 4, 2020
A spokesperson for the airport – Japan’s third busiest – told the Journal that security officials are supposed to open oversized baggage and check them by hand.
Inside Ghosn’s escape
The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the 15-strong escape team took 20 trips to Japan while planning the escape over three months, searching at least ten airports for weaknesses.
That team included two US private security operatives, according to the Journal, one of whom was ex-Green Beret Michael L. Taylor.
Ghosn’s wife Carole also helped him flee, according to multiple reports, but in a statement on January 2, Ghosn denied that his family played any role at all.
The plane carrying Ghosn ferried him overnight to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, whereupon he apparently took a second private plane to Beirut, Lebanon, landing in the early morning of December 30.
Turkey detained seven airline workers, including four pilots, on Thursday in connection with Ghosn’s escape.
Ghosn is a Lebanese citizen, and Lebanon has no extradition arrangement with Japan. The former Nissan CEO used a French passport and his Lebanese identity card at immigration in Beirut, Reuters reported.
Lebanese officials have also said they will not send Ghosn back to Japan, and that he entered the country legally.
Ghosn was scheduled to stand trial in Tokyo in April on charges of financial misconduct following his arrest in November 2018. He is accused of hiding $80 million in payments from Nissan.
According to the Journal, he fled Japan after he learned his trial would be delayed to April 2021.
In a statement last Tuesday, Ghosn said he would “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system.”
“I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution,” he said.
Japanese prosecutors placed Ghosn under house arrest and 24/7 surveillance after he was released on bail in March 2019. They refused to let him communicate with his wife, or access the internet freely.
The Japanese government broke its silence on Ghosn’s escape on Sunday, and addressed his claims.
“Our nation’s criminal justice system protects the basic human rights of an individual and properly carries out appropriate procedures to disclose the truth of various cases, and the flight of a suspect while out on bail is never justified,” Justice Minister Masako Mori said in a statement.
Japanese officials have launched an investigation into his escape.
- Read more:
- A timeline of how Carlos Ghosn fled 24/7 surveillance in Japan, escaped on a private jet, and made it to Lebanon
- Ghosn is holed up in a blush-colored mansion in one of Beirut’s most expensive districts after fleeing Japan, according to reports. Here’s what Achrafieh is like.
- A security expert reveals the possible thinking behind Ghosn’s wild escape from Japan, which involved 2 planes and a mad dash between Turkey and Lebanon
- Auto legend and ex-GM exec Bob Lutz slams Ghosn, says he has a ‘god complex’ and ‘CEO disease’