By Arab News
By Ali Itani
The Lebanese Ambassador to Japan has strongly denied his embassy was involved in the dramatic escape of Carlos Ghosn in an exclusive statement to Arab News Japan, after widespread accusations in the media.
The fugitive former Nissan boss made global headlines with his Hollywood-esque escape from Japan, after somehow slipping past immigration authorities and checkpoints to fly out in a cargo plane to Turkey and finally arriving on New Year’s Eve in Lebanon via private jet.
An arrest warrant for Ghosn was issued by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) on Thursday, according to a Lebanese judicial source.
Lebanon’s ambassador to Japan, Nidal Yehya, issued a statement to Arab News Japan on Thursday saying: “The Lebanese Embassy in Tokyo is keen to inform Japanese public opinion that the Lebanese embassy had absolutely no relationship or interference with how Carlos Ghosn got out of Japan, and his violation of the conditions for his release on bail.
“Rather, the Embassy has always stressed to him that he must abide by all the conditions of his release, as decided by the Criminal Court in Tokyo, in order to ensure his health and to ensure the proper preparation of the defence for the cases brought against him.” Ambassador Yehya spoke out after media reports accused the Embassy of involvement.
Yōichi Masuzoe, who served as governor of the Japanese capital from 2014 to 2016, accused the Embassy of misusing its diplomatic privileges. He tweeted to his 161,900 followers: “The immigration system for entry and exit procedures are very strict. There is also special auditing of private jets.
“The officials there could not be mistaken in such a situation. I think that the Embassy of Lebanon is involved somehow in the escape of Carlos Ghosn because of the use of diplomatic privileges.
“As for Ghosn, he may have fled because he wants the Japanese government to thoroughly clarify the fact.”
Masuzoe is a controversial figure in Japanese politics. He was a member of the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan’s parliament the National Diet, from 2001 to 2013 before being elected as Governor of Tokyo in 2014.
But in 2016, he was forced to resign over allegations of misuse of public funds. While an investigation found no criminal behaviour, he faced a vote of no confidence after details emerged of flamboyant spending on hotels, restaurants and travel, and he resigned.
The statement followed a day of developments surrounding Carlos Ghosn’s escape.
In Tokyo, Japanese prosecutors raided the Tokyo home Ghosn with officers seen entering the property.
In Turkey, police detained seven people – four pilots, a cargo company manager and two airport workers – after the interior ministry launched a probe into the transit of ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who after fleeing Japan stopped in Turkey on his way to Lebanon, broadcaster NTV said on Thursday.
And, in France junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said the state ‘will not extradite’ Ghosn if he arrives in the country.