Speculation abounded on Tuesday over the escape of Nissan’s ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn — a recognizable figure and international fugitive — from his highly surveilled home in Japan onto a mysterious flight to Lebanon.
Ghosn, who was set to stand trial in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges, said in a statement that he fled so he would “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.”
But how he managed to flee the country while under tight restrictions is anyone’s guess. He was forbidden from international travel and his three passports were confiscated as part of a $13 million bail arrangement.
On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the exfiltration “followed weeks of planning by associates,” including “accomplices in Japan.” His wife, Carole Ghosn, was also allegedly involved, The Journal said, citing sources familiar with the planning.
The Journal did not provide specifics on how he managed to leave Japan, and officials in Japan and Lebanon have not confirmed exactly what happened.
However, that hasn’t stopped a variety of bizarre — and in many cases unconfirmed — theories from springing up online and in media outlets.
For instance, one unverified account from the Lebanese TV station MTV said Ghosn fled the country in a bass case after a Christmas band visited his home.
Nissan’s ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn was facing trial over financial misconduct charges.
Other reports have indicted that Ghosn used a fake passport and identity. The New York Times noted that such a ruse wouldn’t be uncommon for Ghosn — he once disguised himself as a construction worker so he could leave a detention center without the media noticing.
Sources told NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster, that the country’s Immigration Services Agency had no record of Ghosn leaving Japan.
A view of a house that is believed to belong to Carlos Ghosn in Beirut, Lebanon December 31, 2019.
Agence France-Presse, citing a source in the Lebanese presidency, reported that Ghosn entered the country with a French passport and his Lebanese identity card. It’s unclear whether that passport was authentic though, as Ghosn’s Japanese lawyers have confirmed they have all of Ghosn’s passports, including his French one.
Reuters reported the same, adding that he took a private jet from Istanbul to Beirut on Monday.
The Lebanese General Security Directorate said in a statement it wouldn’t prosecute him for coming to the country. Lebanon doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Japan, so he most likely won’t be forced to go back and face trial.
Ghosn’s parents were born in Lebanon, and he grew up in Beirut. He maintains a house in the city, and Reuters reported that a neighbor left a note Tuesday that said, “Carlos, welcome home!” Private security guards and police officers stood guard outside.
A family friend told the AFP, “He is in Lebanon in his house with his wife. He is very happy. He is free.”