Former Nissan chairman Ghosn flees to Lebanon while awaiting Japanese trial

Lebanon says he entered the country legally and will not face legal consequences

Nissan's former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, said Tuesday that he left Japan for Lebanon to avoid “injustice and political persecution” over financial misconduct allegations during his tenure leading the automaker.

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Ghosn had been released on bail by a Tokyo court while awaiting trial but was not allowed to travel overseas.

Lebanon's General Directorate of General Security said Ghosn entered the country legally and will not face legal consequences, Reuters reports. Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.

He disclosed his location in a statement through his representatives that did not describe how he left Japan, where he had been under surveillance. He promised to talk to reporters next week.

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, right, and his wife, Carole, in Tokyo. (Kyodo News via AP, File)

“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan's legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” the statement said.

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Japanese media quoted prosecutors speaking anonymously who said they did not know how Ghosn had left.

Ghosn, who is of Lebanese origin and holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports, was arrested in November 2018 and was expected to face trial in April 2020.

FORMER NISSAN CHIEF CARLOS GHOSN ARRIVES IN BEIRUT, LEBANON

Prosecutors fought his release, but a court granted him bail with conditions that he be monitored and he could not meet with his wife Carole, who is also of Lebanese origin. Recently the court allowed them to speak by video calls.

Ghosn has repeatedly asserted his innocence, saying authorities trumped up charges to prevent a possible fuller merger between Nissan Motor Co. and alliance partner Renault SA.

He has been charged with under-reporting his future compensation and of breach of trust.

Former Nissan Motor Chariman Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House on April 25, 2019. (REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo)

He had posted 1.5 billion yen ($14 million) bail on two separate releases. Ghosn had been rearrested on additional charges after an earlier release.

Ghosn was credited with leading a spectacular turnaround at Nissan beginning in the late 1990s, rescuing the automaker from near-bankruptcy.

Before his fall from grace, Ghosn was also a celebrity in Japan, revered for his managerial acumen.

Nissan did not have immediate comment. The Japanese automaker has also been charged as a company in relation to Ghosn's alleged financial crimes.

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The charges Ghosn faces carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.