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  1. ITV Report

Carlos Ghosn says his detention in Japan was ‘travesty’ against human rights

Nissan's fugitive ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn has described his detention conditions in Japan, from which he fled last month in a daring escape, as a "travesty" against human rights and dignity.

The former car industry titan held a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon - the first time he has been seen since fleeing Japan last month ahead of his trial.

Mr Ghosn described his detention conditions as a "travesty" against human rights and dignity and said he had not experienced "a moment of freedom" since his arrest in November 2018.

But he said the decision to flee “was the most difficult of my life.”

He dismissed all allegations against him as untrue, saying: "I should never have been arrested in the first place.”

“I’m not above the law and I welcome the opportunity for the truth to come out and have my name cleared,” he told a packed room of journalists, as he presented a five-part slide presentation.

Journalists gather outside the venue where ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn was holding a press conference. Credit: AP

The former auto industry chief was arrested in November 2018 for alleged financial misconduct.

His improbable escape has perplexed and embarrassed Japanese authorities after he skipped bail and managed to flee the country despite supposedly rigorous surveillance.

He managed to escape from Tokyo to Beirut in late December, arriving in the Lebanese capital where he grew up.

Media reports say he left his residence alone, met two men at a Tokyo hotel, and then took a bullet train to Osaka before boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for musical equipment.

He flew to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived on December 30.

Nissan ex-chairman has said all allegations against him are untrue. Credit: AP

At the press conference, Mr Ghosn portrayed his arrest as a plot linked to a decline in the financial performance of Nissan.

He had been in favour of merging Nissan with industry ally Renault, of which he was also chairman.

“Unfortunately there was no trust. And some of our Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of Renault in Nissan is to get rid of me,” he said.

Tokyo prosecutors raided a Japanese lawyer’s office on Wednesday where Mr Ghosn had visited regularly before he fled.

Japanese media reports said prosecutors had likely seized the computer to track down how Mr Ghosn escaped and who might have helped him.

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An hour before the scheduled press conference, a Lebanese prosecutor said Mr Ghosn will be summoned “in the coming hours” over a visit to Israel more than 10 years ago, according to the state-run National News Agency.

A report was submitted to the Public Prosecutor’s Office against Mr Ghosn last week, saying he violated Lebanese law by visiting Israel.

The two neighboring countries are technically in a state of war.

Prosecutor Ghassan Khoury met with the two lawyers who filed the case on Wednesday and asked them to bring additional evidence, adding he would summon Mr Ghosn in the coming hours.

Mr Ghosn visited Israel in 2008 and met officials including the prime minister and the president. At the time he announced the launch of electric cars in Israel.

Lebanese authorities have said Mr Ghosn entered the country on a legal passport, casting doubt on the possibility they would hand him over to Japan.

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In statements, Mr Ghosn has said he fled to avoid “political persecution” by a “rigged Japanese justice system.”

He also said that he alone organised his departure from Japan and that his wife, Carole, played no role.

Tokyo prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn on suspicion of perjury, but the charge is not related to his escape.

Mr Ghosn’s former employer, Nissan, said it was still pursuing legal action against him despite his escape, adding that he engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.