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New details revealed of ex-Nissan CEO’s escape

Investigation gives details of last week's escape of Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon through Istanbul Ataturk airport

Halil Demir and Melike Gallenkus   | 08.01.2020
New details revealed of ex-Nissan CEO’s escape

ISTANBUL

New details were revealed Wednesday of last week’s notorious escape of ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon through Istanbul Ataturk Airport.

After leaving Osaka, Japan on Dec. 29, Ghosn arrived at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Dec. 30 at 5:30 a.m. Turkish time (0230GMT) hiding in a case with air holes for carrying musical equipment, said security sources who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Investigators found that Okan K., a business executive later arrested, helped Ghosn get out of the case, walked down the stairs, and sat in an idling car which took them to a plane 40 meters (0.02 miles) away, which Ghosn boarded.

Okak K. also boarded the plane, which took off at 5.50 a.m. (0250GMT) from Ataturk Airport for Beirut, and later at 10.15 a.m. (0715GMT) he returned to the same airport in Turkey.

The probe also found that U.S. citizen Michael T. and Lebanese citizen George Antoine Z., who arrived in Istanbul on the same plane as Ghosn, used a taxi service to Istanbul Airport at 6.02 a.m. (0302GMT), and following passport control procedures at around 10.00 a.m. (0700GMT), both left the country at 12.20 p.m. (0920GMT) in a Lebanon Airlines aircraft.

Interpol red notice

Following an application by Japanese authorities, Interpol on Jan. 2 issued a red notice on Ghosn which reached authorities on Jan. 6.

Lebanese Justice Minister confirmed in a Thursday statement that Beirut received an arrest warrant from Interpol.

On Tuesday, Lebanon’s Interior Ministry announced that Ghosn had arrived legally in Lebanon early Monday.

Security camera recordings revealed that Okan K. took Ghosn by car to the front of the jet to Lebanon, where he exited the vehicle and walked to the plane.

The photo also showed the case Ghosn was hiding in.

Arrested people

Five suspects were remanded into custody in Istanbul on Friday over aiding the escape, and accused of human trafficking.

Last Thursday, seven people were arrested, including four pilots, two employees for a private ground service company, and one company executive.

The arrests came after Istanbul prosecutors launched an investigation into Ghosn's escape to the Lebanese capital of Beirut via Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, after skipping bail in Japan, where he had been under house arrest.

As part of the investigation, the flights of two private jets from Osaka to Ataturk Airport and then Beirut were investigated.

Last November, Ghosn was arrested in Japan on charges of corruption from his tenure as chairman of Japanese carmaker Nissan.

* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev

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