On Netflix’s ‘Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn,’ the viewers learn of the accusations leveled against Carlos Ghosn, the head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, before his arrest in Japan in November 2018. But more than a year after being taken into custody, Carlos made a bold escape from the country. It was later revealed that Michael Taylor, a former US Special Forces member planned the escape and ensured it was completed without hiccups. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Michael Taylor?
Michael Taylor was born in Arizona in 1960 as Michael Anderson. His father left soon after, with his mother eventually marrying a military intelligence officer. Michael’s life improved after that, and he did well in school. He was then recruited by the Special Forces in 1978 as part of a short-lived program that recruited minors. Later, Michael, a former Green Beret, became a private security contractor, helping parents rescue kidnapped children and working for the FBI on undercover operations. As part of his job, he was also hired by the US military to help out in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While Michael was in between jobs, he heard from a Lebanese businessman friend about a man wanting help getting someone out of Japan. Michael eventually learned it was Carlos and met with his wife, Carole. She told him about the problematic conditions and the harsh interrogation process her husband was subjected to. Michael later said, “I felt he was a hostage. He was being tortured. Then I had empathy for the guy.”
So, Michael decided to help get Carlos out of Japan to Lebanon and set about making a plan in the months preceding the incident. After learning he wouldn’t be breaking any US laws if he helped someone jump bail in Japan, Michael decided to go ahead with the extraction. He recruited a team that included airport security, counterintelligence, police, etc. Furthermore, Michael learned that the footage from the cameras outside Carlos’ home was only collected once a week.Ex
Eventually, Michael flew down to Japan on December 29, 2018, for what he claimed was to conduct a dry run. He was with George-Antoine Zayek, a former member of the Lebanese militia. However, Michael claimed that Carlos decided to go ahead with the escape at the last minute. So, the former executive left his home and headed to a hotel where he changed clothes. The room was rented out by Peter Taylor, Michael’s son, who left clothes for Carlos and had met him on December 28.
Then, Carlos met Michael and George-Antoine, and the three took a train to Osaka, Japan. They checked into another hotel there, and Carlos was placed in a large box intended to carry speakers; Michael and George-Antoine pretended to be musicians. They picked the Kansai International Airport in Osaka because it didn’t have a large enough scanner to scan a box the size they were using to hide Carlos. Furthermore, Michael bribed the terminal manager, saying they were in a rush and had to reach Istanbul, Turkey, in time for a meeting.
The duo reached the airport at around 10:30 PM and passed the security without their luggage being x-rayed. The bribe he gave the manager was returned to him as well. Carlos, in the box, was loaded onto the private jet that took them to Istanbul. From there, Carlos flew to Beirut in another private plane. Once the authorities found out, they issued a warrant for Michael and Peter’s arrest. The father and son were taken into custody in Massachusetts in May 2020.
Where is Michael Taylor Today?
Michael and Peter fought their extradition to Japan for months, saying in courts that Japanese prison conditions were harsh. Nevertheless, they were extradited to the Asian country in March 2021 after spending several months in detention. In June 2021, Michael and Peter pleaded guilty to illegally helping Carlos escape. However, the former said that his son was not involved. He was apologetic in court, adding, “I deeply regret my actions and sincerely apologize for causing difficulties for the judicial system and for the Japanese people.”
The judge ruled that Michael and Peter’s motivation was money. The son, a businessman, had traveled to Japan several times and met Carlos the day before the escape. Furthermore, Peter’s company received more than $860,000 from Carlos, which was used to finance the escape. However, the judge stated that only about half of that money was used for the private jet, with the rest going to the Taylors.
In response, Michael denied any financial gain. They were sentenced in July 2021, with Michael receiving two years and Peter receiving one year and eight months in a Japanese prison. In February 2022, it was reported that Michael suffered frostbite while serving his sentence at Fuchu Prison in Tokyo, Japan. The facility had unheated cells, and he had to work without gloves. It seems like Peter is also serving his sentence at a correctional facility in Japan. The two applied to serve the rest of their sentences in the US, but the Japanese authorities have remained tight-lipped about its approval.
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