Ghosn, Hidden in Box, Exploited Airport Security Flaw

There was no mandatory check on luggage for private planes
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2020 9:40 AM CST
Ghosn, Hidden in Box, Exploited Airport Security Flaw
A private security guard stands outside the house of ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in Beirut on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

(Newser) – Reports that Carlos Ghosn escaped Japan in a musical instrument box were pretty close to the truth. The former Nissan executive facing charges of financial wrongdoing hid in a large black box designed for concert equipment, with breathing holes poked in the bottom, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing sources close to the investigation in Turkey. Three months earlier, operatives had visited at least 10 Japanese airports looking for a security flaw. They found it at Osaka's Kansai International Airport, where scanners were too small to fit oversize luggage. Such items are to be screened manually, according to a rep for the airport's operator. But Japan's transport ministry tells AFP that luggage checks aren't mandatory for private jets, which carry a lower terrorism risk. The audio-equipment case was therefore loaded onto a jet without security staff realizing there was a fugitive inside.

Also on the plane were two US security operatives: Michael Taylor, an ex-Green Beret who's worked with the US government to rescue overseas kidnapping victims, and George Zayek, a Lebanese-born US citizen who's worked in private security with US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as with Taylor's Boston-based security company, per the Journal. The outlet reports the escape plan—involving a bullet train trip from Tokyo to Osaka—involved 10 to 15 people and cost millions of dollars, not to mention the $13.9 million forfeited in bail. Japan's justice minister said Monday the departure process would be tightened "so that similar acts can't be committed," per the New York Times. Masako Mori also said an existing review of bail procedures would be hurried. Per the Times, Ghosn had offered to wear a tracking device but was ultimately granted bail without one. (His future in Lebanon is unclear.)

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