U.S. court clears way for extradition to Japan of Ghosn's accused escape plotters


FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault chief executive, gestures as he speaks during a news conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, in Jounieh, Lebanon September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Thursday declined to further delay the extradition to Japan of two men charged with helping former Nissan Motor Co Ltd Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee the country.

The order by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston clears the way for U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, to be handed over to Japan, after the U.S. State Department approved their extradition.

Their lawyers had said that absent a stay of a prior ruling that they were seeking to appeal that allowed for their extradition, the U.S. government could turn over the Taylors to Japan as early as Friday.

Paul Kelly, a lawyer for the Taylors, said their defense team is "currently exploring the Taylors' legal options." The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.

The Taylors were arrested in May at Japan's request after being charged with helping Ghosn flee Japan on Dec. 29, 2019, hidden in a box and on a private jet before reaching his childhood home, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn was awaiting trial on charges that he engaged in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan's financial statements. Ghosn denies wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said the elder Taylor, a 60-year-old private security specialist, and Peter Taylor, 27, received $1.3 million for their services.

The Taylors' lawyers argued they could not be prosecuted in Japan for helping someone "bail jump" and that, if extradited, they faced the prospect relentless interrogations and torture.

But a federal judge last month held that while prison conditions in Japan "may be deplorable," that was not enough to bar extradition and that they were charged with an "extraditable offense."

The Taylors' high-powered defense team during their months-long legal fight also lobbied the White House under then-President Donald Trump to step in.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Bostond; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Alistair Bell and Toby Chopra)

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