A U.S. prosecutor on Monday urged a judge to keep a former Green Beret and his son jailed as Japan plans to officially seek their extradition on charges that they helped former Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn flee the East Asian country while awaiting trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hassink said during a virtual hearing that Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, have a “clear and present reason to flee” after being alleged of helping Ghosn, who is facing financial misconduct charges in Japan.
“They’re actually some of the best defendants that I’m sure this court has seen positioned to actually succeed in that flight,” Hassink stated.
Hassink argued the men, who have been held without bail since they were arrested in Massachusetts during the last month, helped smuggle Ghosn out of Japan in a box on December 29, 2019. Ghosn then fled to Lebanon. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.
The Taylors’ lawyers countered that had they wished to prevent prosecution they could have stayed in Lebanon, where they were when Japan in January said it would seek their arrest, instead of returning to Massachusetts.
“If he’s an expert of escape, he would not have returned to the United States,” said Robert Sheketoff, a lawyer for Michael Taylor.
He and other defense lawyers argued the case against their clients was problematic and that Michael Taylor, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, and private security specialist, is at heightened risk of complications from COVID-19 coronavirus, which could spread in the jail.
The hearing itself was held through a Zoom videoconference due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell said he hoped to rule as soon as possible.