Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has bared all in a revealing press conference, giving his first public comments since fleeing Japan, where he was being held while awaiting charges for financial misconduct.
Reaffirming his innocence in the strongest possible terms, he said that “these allegations are untrue and I should have never been arrested in the first place”.
He called the events that led to his arrest “a systematic campaign by a handful of malevolent actors” and went on to name individuals, including high-ranking Nissan executives. He also alleged that high-ranking members of the Japanese government were involved but refused to name names.
Ghosn held the frantically organised conference in an undisclosed location in Beirut, Lebanon, eight days after he fled Japan hidden in a private plane. He claimed that he had to do this in order to escape “injustice and political persecution”.
“Escaping Japan was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make," said Ghosn. "But the facts, the truth and justice are irrelevant to these individuals. The only way I will get a fair trial would be to not be in Japan.”
"My choice was between dying in Japan or escaping"
Ghosn went into detail about his treatment during his lengthy detention in a Japanese prison. He described a “tiny cell without a window” and claimed he was only allowed outside for 30 minutes a day on weekdays and only allowed to shower twice a week.
He also claimed he went six days without human contact during the New Year break and was offered a translator only once a week. Prescription medication was also said to be forbidden.
Ghosn described being treated “like a terrorist” during his interrogation, which he said was "designed” to break his spirit.
He said: “I've spent the previous months being interrogated up to eight hours a day with no lawyers present. ‘It will get worse for you if you don’t confess', they say - and this was recorded. ‘If you confess it will be over, and if you don’t confess, we will go after your family’."
Ghosn added that his family – including his wife Carole, for whom the Japanese government has issued an arrest warrant – were subjected to “media attacks orchestrated by Japanese prosecutors and Nissan executives”.
Japanese prosecution is a “system indifferent to truth”
Ghosn railed against the Japanese prosecution team during his hour-long statement to the media, claiming he had no chance of a fair trial when there is a 99.4% conviction rate in Japan’s justice system.
He claimed he was the victim of an “anachronistic and inhuman system of hostage justice” and has yet to be given any idea of a trial date, despite 14 months of detention. Ghosn says his lawyers hinted it could be at least five years before he faces a trial. “I pleaded my innocence," he said. "The feeling of hopelessness was profound."
The prosecution team were accused of breaking the law “at least ten times” during his arrest period, primarily by leaking information to the media.
Ghosn said it was clear during his pre-trial sessions that “the prosecutor was the boss”, despite the presence of three respected judges in the courtroom.
Nissan executives were “petty, vindictive, lawless criminals”
While Ghosn refused to name figures within the Japanese government who conspired with Nissan executives and prosecutors, he did name three senior figures within Nissan. He described them as “unscrupulous and vindictive individuals”, as well as “petty, vindictive, lawless criminals”.