BEIRUT -- Indicted former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, now an international fugitive on the loose in Lebanon after bolting bail in Japan, lashed out at the carmaker and the Japanese justice system in his first press conference since his wild legal odyssey began in 2018.
Facing some 100 reporters at Wednesday’s invitation-only event, an animated Ghosn – looking businesslike in a dark suit and red tie – spoke for nearly two-and-a-half hours, unleashing a point-by-point attack on the validity of the investigation that culminated in his shocking arrest in Japan.
Ghosn named names of those behind what he alleged was a plot to oust him, singling out former CEO Hiroto Saikawa, and said he had evidence backing his claims of innocence.
“I am here to clear my name," Ghosn said at the conference, held here in the Lebanese capital. "These allegations are untrue, and I should never have been arrested in the first place."
Ghosn also said he would be willing to stand trial in any country, except Japan, where he spent nearly 130 days in solitary confinement as prosecutors repeatedly arrested him on different counts. He blasted Japanese justice, with its 99 percent conviction rate, as a rigged system in which guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant and basic human rights are denied.
The former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, now sporting thinner, grayer hair than before his Nov. 19, 2018, arrest, also said he was interrogated for as long as eight hours a day without a clear explanation of the charges against him. Prosecutors, the 65-year-old father of four grown children said, pressured him to confess, partly by threatening to go after his family.
“I was brutally taken from my world as I knew it,” Ghosn said. “I was ripped from my family, my friends, from my communities, and from Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.”
Jumping bail and fleeing to his childhood home of Lebanon just before New Year, he said, was the only way he could escape what he called the injustice of the Japanese system.
“You’re going to die in Japan or you’re going to have to get out,” he said. “I felt that I was a hostage in a country that I had served for 17 years... All of a sudden a few prosecutors and a bunch of executives at Nissan said you know what, this guy is a cold, greedy dictator.”