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U.S. fights delay in extraditing Carlos Ghosn's accused escape plotters to Japan

BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Friday urged a federal judge to swiftly reject a last-minute bid by two Massachusetts men to avoid being extradited to Japan to face charges that they helped former Nissan Motor Co Ltd Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee the country.

FILE PHOTO: Michael Taylor, who was implicated in enabling the dramatic escape of former Nissan Motor Co boss Carlos Ghosn, is seen in a booking photograph from October 24, 2012 on unrelated charges and released by the Davis County Sherriff's office. Davis County Sherriff's office/Handout via REUTERS

The department in a court filing said Japanese agents are slated to come to the United States in the “coming days” to transport U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, back to Japan.

The U.S. State Department informed their lawyers on Wednesday it had approved turning them over. They challenged that decision in court on Thursday, prompting U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to order a delay.

Defense lawyers sought the delay, saying Japanese media told them their clients would be flown to Japan that day. But the Justice Department said there was no plan to extradite within hours of their learning of the extradition decision.

The department argued the Taylors want to re-litigate arguments against their extradition a judge already rejected. “The Taylors’ eleventh-hour bid to thwart their extradition is meritless,” prosecutors wrote.

Defense attorney Paul Kelly sought until next week to respond, saying “the travel schedule or convenience of Japanese officials is not our concern.”

The Taylors’ lawyers have said they will ask the State Department and White House to reconsider their extradition.

Prosecutors say the Taylors helped Ghosn flee Japan on Dec. 29, 2019, hidden in a box and on a private jet before reaching his childhood home, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn was awaiting trial on charges that he engaged in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan’s financial statements. Ghosn denies wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said the elder Taylor, a private security specialist, and his son received $1.3 million for their services.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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