Pilots Arrested In Connection with Ghosn's Escape from Japan

 - January 2, 2020, 10:35 AM

Turkish police have arrested four pilots and three other individuals they want to question in connection with the escape of former automotive executive Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon. The former Nissan CEO, who is facing charges of financial malpractice, appears to have been concealed in a chartered private jet when he fled Japan late on December 29 and then appeared in the Lebanese capital Beirut on December 31, apparently after changing aircraft in Istanbul.

Interior ministry officials in Turkey confirmed the arrests to local media, without naming the individuals or their companies. However, the four pilots are understood to be with an Istanbul-based private jet charter company, while two other individuals reportedly work for a local handling company, while another person is associated with a cargo company.

On Thursday morning, Interpol issued a “red notice” to Lebanese police, asking them to arrest Ghosn, who was released on $8.9 million in bail in April 2019 and required by a Japanese court to remain in his Tokyo home. He holds French, Brazilian, and Lebanese citizenships, and had supposedly surrendered all his passports to Japanese police.

Analysis of flights leaving Japan on the evening of December 29 highlighted a Bombardier Global Express (tail number TC-TSR) departing Osaka Kansai Airport at 11:10 p.m. local time and arriving at Istanbul Ataturk Airport at 5:26 a.m. local time. At 6:30 a.m. a Bombardier Challenger 300 (tail number TC-RZA) departed Istanbul, arriving in Beirut at 6:14 a.m. local time.

Both aircraft are registered to Istanbul-based MNG Jet Aerospace. The company did not respond to requests from AIN to confirm whether its aircraft and personnel had been involved in Ghosn’s journey from Japan.

Turkish news service Hurriyet quoted interior ministry officials indicating that Ghosn did not appear on any manifest for aircraft arriving in the country, and he had not been registered as entering or leaving the country. Japanese officials have indicated that Ghosn had not used any of his passports to leave the country.