BOSTON — The U.S. State Department has approved turning over to Japan two Massachusetts men to face charges that they helped smuggle former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of the country while he was awaiting trial on financial crimes.
Lawyers for U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, disclosed the department’s decision in a court filing in federal court in Boston as they sought to delay the transfer, which could happen later on Thursday.
Lawyers for the Taylors did not immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did the White House and State Department.
The State Department’s decision came after a federal magistrate judge in September rejected the two men’s challenge to their potential extradition following their arrests in May at the request of Japanese authorities.
Prosecutors say the Taylors facilitated a “brazen” escape in which Ghosn fled Japan on Dec. 29, 2019, hidden in a box and on a private jet before reaching Lebanon, his childhood home, 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.
The State Department notified the Taylors’ lawyers of its decision on Wednesday. The attorneys in a last-minute motion on Thursday urged a federal judge to halt them from be transported to Japan on a 1 p.m. EDT flight from Boston to Narita, Japan.
They said they learned of those “outrageous” flight plans from Japanese media.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, a prominent Republican who has taken interest in the case, wrote on Twitter that he was “outraged” by the decision. “This former Special Forces member and his son will not be treated fairly,” he said.