Lebanon has imposed a travel ban on fugitive former auto executive Carlos Ghosn one day after he briefed the world’s media on why he fled Japan.
Lebanese prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat confirmed Thursday that a travel ban had been issued that will prevent the ex-Nissan boss from leaving the country.
Lebanon said on January 2 that it had received a “red notice” from international police organization Interpol confirming that Ghosn was wanted by police in Japan.
A red notice does not compel law enforcement authorities to arrest fugitives. Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty, and Lebanese officials have said Ghosn entered the country legally.
The former auto industry titan was awaiting trial in Tokyo for alleged financial wrongdoing before he pulled off a stunning breakout from the country late last year.
Ghosn, who is a citizen of Lebanon, Brazil and France, held a press conference Wednesday in Beirut where he proclaimed his innocence and pledged to fight back against what he described as “political persecution.”
“Obviously I don’t consider myself a prisoner in Lebanon,” he told reporters. “I’m happy to be here. I’m with my friends, my family. I don’t feel at all unhappy. I’m ready to stay a long time in Lebanon.”
On Tuesday, Japanese prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for his wife, Carole Ghosn, accusing her of giving false testimony during a court hearing last April. She is also in Lebanon.
Representatives for Ghosn did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Japan’s justice system
Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo more than a year ago. Among other charges, prosecutors alleged that he understated his income for years and funneled $5 million of Nissan’s money to a car dealership he controlled.
On Wednesday, he slammed Japan’s criminal justice system, which he said “violates the most basic principles of humanity.”
He pointed to his time in solitary confinement, extended questioning without lawyers present, and the lack of a speedy trial. Japanese prosecutors were intent on extracting incriminating information, not on determining the truth, he claimed, adding that he was allowed to shower only twice a week.
Ghosn said his arrest was part of a plot to oust him from the automotive empire he built between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors. He did not provide evidence of this.
Prosecutors blame Ghosn
Tokyo prosecutors said in a statement following the press conference that Ghosn “has only himself to blame for being arrested and detained,” and for the conditions of his bail.
There was sufficient evidence, they said, to “determine that there was a high probability of obtaining conviction.”
Japanese Justice Minister Masako Mori said in a statement that Ghosn “has been propagating both within Japan and internationally false information on Japan’s legal system and its practice.”
“That is absolutely intolerable,” she said.
— Sherisse Pham, Julia Horowitz and Charles Riley contributed to this report.