The trial of the Taylors is painting a fuller picture of Ghosn's dramatic flight from Japan, hidden inside an oversized box that was wheeled onto a private jet and flown out of the country.
Ghosn, once one of the industry's most influential executives, eventually landed in Lebanon, where he now lives as an international fugitive.
The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts in May 2020 and extradited to Japan in early March after failing to block the handover in a legal fight that went all the way to the U.S. State Department.
Since their arrival in Japan, they have been locked in the same Tokyo jail that once housed Ghosn.
The Taylors barely spoke during their first public hearing, which mainly heard the prosecutors read their indictments and enter reams of evidence.
Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret and security expert, looked bedraggled compared with his buff appearance captured by security footage during Ghosn's extraction effort. Both were led into court in handcuffs amid heavy security, presumably in reaction to their reputation as professional escape artists. The spectator gallery was ringed by 11 security guards, and eight more guards stood on the judge's side of the rail. Each defendant was flanked on both sides by a bailiff.
Prosecutors chronicled each step of their escape operation, citing mounds of evidence compiled from surveillance cameras, bank records and witnesses such as hotel staff and airport workers.
In a statement purportedly given to prosecutors during his interrogation, Michael Taylor said he met Ghosn's wife, Carole, through an acquaintance in Lebanon and was led to believe it was not a crime to help someone flee Japan. His son Peter allegedly told prosecutors he hadn't been aware of Ghosn's case but checked it on the Internet and learned that Ghosn was in a severe situation.
Planning for the operation began in June 2019 with Michael meeting Carole in Lebanon, and it involved Peter visiting Japan over that summer for meetings with Ghosn, prosecutors said. Ghosn allegedly paid a company run by Peter a total of $862,000 in two installments, and the Taylor team used some $400,000 of that amount to hire the private jet that would fly Ghosn to freedom.
Ghosn has said he had no help from family members in coordinating his escape. He also is one of many critics who oppose what they say is a system of "hostage justice" in Japan. After the hearing, a source close to Ghosn questioned the credibility of the Taylors' statements, comparing it with the forced declarations of American prisoners captured during the Vietnam War.
"They are in Japan, in the hands of the prosecutor, about to be judged, and they are looking for clemency," the person said. "They will say anything the prosecutor wants them to say."