Updated to include MNG's statement.
Carlos Ghosn, Brazilian-born Lebanese-French businessman and former chairman and CEO of Nissan, mysteriously escaped house arrest in Japan and arrived in Beirut, Lebanon on Dec. 30. In a statement released by his press representative, Ghosn claimed 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."
Ghosn was first arrested in November 2018 on allegations of under-reporting his earnings and misusing company assets. He was granted bail in March 2019. Shortly afterwards, he was re-arrested in Tokyo in April over new allegations regarding misappropriating Nissan's funds. As a condition of being released on bail, Ghosn had to stay in Japan with 24-hour camera surveillance monitored by police as he awaited trial to defend himself against charges of financial misconduct.
With his grand escape and bold statement, Ghosn has successfully captured global media attention. As the story unravels, here are some details and major updates that took place so far:
His escape from Tokyo, Japan
It was first rumored by Lebanese media that Ghosn had fled his residence in Tokyo with the assistance of a paramilitary group disguised amongst a band coming to Ghosn's house for a private Christmas dinner concert. The musical ended with the businessman hiding in one of the larger musical instrument cases, which was then taken to a local airport in Japan where he took a flight to Istanbul, Turkey before arriving in Lebanon on a private jet.
On Friday, CCTV footage from a surveillance camera placed at the entrance of Ghosn's Tokyo house showed him leaving on Sunday noon but never returning.
Japanese authorities have reportedly raided his house after he fled.
The 65-year-old businessman has a Lebanese, French, and Brazilian passport, all confiscated by Japanese authorities and kept safe with his lawyers. It is reported that Ghosn was granted a spare French passport by officials in Japan, which he used to escape.
The 1.5-billion yen ($14 million) bail that he "posted on two separate instances to get out of detention is being revoked," AP reported.
His arrival in Beirut, Lebanon
Before landing in Beirut, the international fugitive had a layover in Istanbul, Turkey which prompted an investigation that has led to the arrest of four pilots, a cargo company manager, and two airport workers, according to AP.
"Turkish private aircraft operator MNG Jet said on Friday that its planes were used illegally in the escape from Japan of ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, adding it had filed a criminal complaint," Arab News Japan reported.
"In December 2019, MNG Jet leased two separate private jets to two different clients," the company explained, adding that one of its employees confessed to falsifying records by not including Ghosn's name in the official documentation.
"One private jet from Dubai to Osaka and Osaka to Istanbul, and another private jet from Istanbul to Beirut. The two leases were seemingly not connected to each other," the statement said.
Upon arrival in Beirut and according to two sources close to the fugitive, Ghosn met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun to thank him for his continued support throughout his detention in Japan and to stress on the importance of continued protection and security after fleeing his prosecution.
The sources, who said details of the meeting where specified to them by Ghosn himself, added that the meeting between the two had not been made public. President Aoun's official media office denied the two had met.
A report by Financial Times noted that Lebanon had asked for Ghosn's extradition a year ago and once again a week before he evaded justice in Japan by returning home.
Lebanon and Japan have no extradition agreement.
Nissan ex-boss will reportedly hold a news conference in Beirut on Jan. 8 to discuss his situation further.
The Interpol sent an wanted notice to Lebanese authorities
The Interpol has sent Lebanon's internal security a "red notice," which is "a request to police across the world to provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or other similar legal action," according to BBC.
Ghosn's relationship with his family and the only photo leaked after his arrival in Lebanon
"There has been speculation in the media that my wife Carole, and other members of my family played a role in my departure from Japan. All such speculation is inaccurate and false," a statement released by Ghosn on Thursday said.
"I alone arranged for my departure. My family had no role whatsoever," it added.
Ghosn seems to have a supportive family, especially when it comes to his wife, Carole Ghosn. She was the first to denounce the story of his escape through a musical instrument case, calling the whole tale "fiction."
The photo above remains the only image the world has of Ghosn after he fled Japan. French media claim this photo is from a New Year's Eve celebration at the Lebanese-Brazilian man's house in Lebanon.
The former Nissan CEO and chairman is currently being sued for entering Israel
According to media reports, Ghosn is currently being sued by a group of Lebanese lawyers for visiting the occupier of Palestine, Israel, in 2008.
Under Lebanese law, citizens are forbidden from going to Israel or communicating with Israelis as Lebanon considers the occupying state an official enemy. In 2006, Lebanon-based Iran-backed Hezbollah led a 34-day war against Israel. Lebanon never signed a peace treaty with Israel after the Arab-Israeli war in 1948.
Ghosn could face up to 15 years in jail if charged in this case, reported The Washington Post.