A federal magistrate judge in Boston has denied a request for bail from a former Green Beret and his son who are fighting extradition to Japan, where they stand accused of helping former Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn escape that country to evade prosecution.
In an 18-page ruling filed Friday in US District Court in Boston, Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell denied bail to Michael Taylor of Harvard, and his son, Peter Maxwell Taylor.
Paul V. Kelly, a lawyer for the Taylors, defended his clients in a statement.
“Despite the court’s order today, we continue to believe — and intend to show — that the Taylors did not commit an offense for which they may be extradited,” Kelly said. “We also believe that these two US citizens, one a decorated Special Forces veteran and the other an impressive young man with no criminal history, should not be held in custody during a pandemic while these issues are being litigated.”
In his ruling, Cabell wrote that “there is a presumption against bail in extradition cases and in favor of detention, and respondents must demonstrate ‘special circumstances’ that justify their release on bail.”
They had argued through their lawyers that they have a high likelihood of prevailing against the Japanese criminal prosecution; that they have been adjudicated “not guilty” by a third country, Lebanon; that Michael Taylor has significant family responsibilities; and that detention will subject the Taylors to a high risk of exposure to the coronavirus, records show.
Cabell wrote that “none of the grounds offered is exceptional and they fail in the court’s view to amount to a special circumstance even when viewed in the aggregate.”
“Even were the court to conclude otherwise, detention would still be warranted because the respondents have not demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that their release would not pose an unreasonable risk of flight,” he wrote.
Cabell added that Ghosn “appears to have wired in October 2019″ $860,000 to a limited liability company controlled by Peter Taylor and his brother.
The US Marshals Service arrested the Taylors in May on a provisional warrant based on charges brought in Japan earlier this year, according to US Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office.
The Taylors face extradition to Japan to answer charges that they helped Ghosn escape in December by hiding him in a large black box and whisking him away on a private jet. At the time, Ghosn was free on bail and awaiting trial in Japan for financial crimes. Ghosn has maintained he is innocent and said he didn’t believe he could get a fair trial.
In court filings, prosecutors argued that Michael Taylor should remain in custody because the case “demonstrates his aptitude for hatching escape plans on a grand scale.”
Ghosn now lives in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
In his ruling, Cabell wrote that decisions “whether to grant or refuse extradition rest exclusively with the Executive branch and would not take place until much later, after a court has determined extraditability.”