Japanese prosecutors on Thursday issued arrest warrants for a former US special forces operative and two other people accused of helping former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn jump bail and flee the country.
The prosecutors also issued a warrant for Ghosn for leaving the country illegally, after he escaped to Lebanon via Turkey last month.
Warrants were issued for Michael Taylor, 59, reportedly a former US special forces operative-turned-security consultant, 26-year-old Peter Taylor, who local media identified as his son, and George Zayek, 60.
They are suspected of taking Ghosn to a hotel in Osaka, western Japan, and hiding him inside a case before taking him to Kansai airport where they allegedly helped him evade a security inspection.
The warrants are the first official confirmation of the reported details about how Ghosn slipped past security and jumped bail shortly after Christmas.
Ghosn has refused to confirm or deny the various reports on how he gave Japanese authorities the slip.
The escape of perhaps the most high-profile suspect on bail in Japan left officials red-faced and they have demanded Ghosn returns to face trial.
Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.
Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 and faced four charges of financial misconduct, which he denies.
He has said he did not believe he would get a fair trial, and accused Nissan executives opposed to his plans to integrate the firm further with its French partner Renault of effectively cooking up the charges against him.
Meanwhile, a representative of the travel agency who perfected her trip to Lebanon, Adetuni Sanusi, debunked Ms. Bright’s claims and explained that she had prior knowledge of the job.
“When she got to Lebanon, we kept in touch with her, she was in communication with us, the agency and that she was happy that everything is going fine and the family she was working for are fine.
“I was shocked to hear her say that she was asked to go over there to teach and in Lebanon, their lingua franca is French and Arabic, so I wouldn’t know why we would recruit her for the purpose of teaching.”
Ms. Bright’s case comes barely a week after a young Nigerian lady Omolola Ajayi, who was trafficked to Lebanon, regained her freedom.
The Ilorin-based Ms. Ajayi claimed she was sold into slavery after believing that she was going there to teach English language, only to discover that she was deceived.
A young Nigerian lady who was trafficked to Lebanon has regained her freedom and has now been handed over to the Nigerian Ambassador in Beirut.
This is according to the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa made this disclosure via her official Twitter page on Monday, January 13.
According to the President’s special aide, the young lady who is known as Omolola Ajayi was received warmly by Ambassador Goni Zanna Bura and she is happy to be in safe hands.
She added that Omolola will soon be home.
‘Please save me, I don’t want to die’
A few days ago, Omolola Ajayi cried out for help via a viral video, claiming that she was allegedly sold into slavery in Lebanon.
Omolola revealed that her parents, Mr. Kehinde Ajayi and Mrs. Felicia Ajayi live at Offa Garage at Under Bridge in Ilorin, Kwara State, alleged that a family friend perpetrated the sad act against her.
According to Omolola, she thought she was coming to Lebanon to teach English but discovered she had been deceived upon arriving in the country.
Omolola disclosed that some of those who fell victim to the same scam are already dead as they are not taken to the hospital when they are sick by their “masters” who seized their passport upon arriving in the country.
Below is a full transcription of what the distraught young lady said in her viral video.
A family friend introduced me to the Lebanese that brought me here to teach their children English language. It turned out to be a lie. When I got here, they collected my passport and kept it. I asked why they did that, I was told that I had been sold as a slave. What I’m facing here is not a small thing. I hope I don’t die. If we’re sick, they wouldn’t take us to the hospital and they only give us analgesics. Half of the people we came to Lebanon together with have died.
The person I’m with now wants to rape me, but I didn’t agree. I’m struggling with him. He has collected my phone. He said that he wouldn’t return it until I accept his sexual advances. If he is sleeping or has gone out, I take the phone.
I told my boss that I wanted to be returned to Nigeria, he replied that he has paid for me; that dead or alive, he owns me. I have a three-year-old baby in Nigeria. Feminique Life Support, please help me, have mercy on me! I want to take care of my daughter. Please don’t let my death make my parents cry.
The other girl I worked with has travelled so he could come to me again. Please help me, don’t allow them to kill me in this country. I don’t even have room to sleep. I sleep on the floor, in the parlor, in this cold weather. I’m not even given a cloth to cover; I wear rags. Please help me because as this man tried to rape me, I pushed him away, so I am scared of him dying by my hands because they’ll kill me too.
My child doesn’t know me and I am suffering too much. The work I came here to do is different from what they are using me for here, and as I speak, I’m even ill and the only drug I had been given was analgesic.
Reactions and arrest
Reacting to the viral video, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq of Kwara State condemned the rising trend of human trafficking in the country.
The governor vowed to deal with anyone caught in the state according to the dictates of the law.
Governor Abdulrasaq said he ordered an immediate investigation into the matter, adding that three suspects, comprising two Nigerians and the Lebanese referred to in the footage, had been arrested in connection with the case.
He further revealed that all the suspects and those connected with the case are being interrogated.
The governor also disclosed that discreet investigations by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, in Kwara State have revealed that there are at least 28 other victims of this horrible trafficking gang.
He urged residents to be confident in coming forward with information regarding trafficking activities.
An airstrike in eastern Syria killed eight fighters of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force overnight, a war monitor said on Friday.
“Unidentified aircraft targeted vehicles and arms depots in the Albu Kamal area, causing a large explosion. At least eight Iraqi Hashed fighters were killed,” the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.
He said several others were wounded.
Through a spokesman contacted by AFP, the US-led military coalition operating in Syria and Iraq denied carrying out the strike.
Abdel Rahman said three villages in the Albu Kamal area known for housing forces loyal to Tehran have been targeted by drone strikes since Wednesday, causing no casualties.
Syria’s war began as a peaceful uprising that was swiftly crushed in a regime crackdown. Almost nine years on, more than 380,000 people have died, and millions more have fled.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin — a key ally of Damascus — on Tuesday made a surprise visit to the country, here is a summary of the main events in the conflict:
Revolt to repression
In March 2011, protests break out to demand political change after four decades of repressive rule by the Assad dynasty.
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime cracks down on demonstrations but rallies continue.
In July an army colonel who has defected from the military sets up the Turkey-based opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA).
An armed rebellion erupts, with support from western and Arab countries. The rebels seize key territory, including large swathes of third city Homs and a chunk of the ancient city of Aleppo.
In 2012 regime forces step up their crackdown, carrying out bloody operations, notably in the central city of Hama, a bastion of opposition to the Assad regime.
In July FSA fighters launch a battle for Damascus but the government holds firm.
From 2013 regime helicopters and planes unleash air strikes, some of them using barrel bombs, on rebel zones.
The same year Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah confirms it has deployed fighters to back Syrian government forces.
Iran also boosts its support for Assad.
On August 21, 2013, chemical attacks blamed on the regime on two rebel-held areas near Damascus reportedly kill more than 1,400 people. The regime denies the charge.
Then US president Barack Obama pulls back from threatened punitive strikes on Syrian regime infrastructure, instead of agreeing a deal with Moscow that is meant to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
Islamic State group
In June 2014, the jihadist Islamic State group proclaims a “caliphate” over territory it has seized in Syria and Iraq.
In September a US-led coalition launches airstrikes against IS in Syria.
The strikes benefit Kurdish groups, who since 2013 have run autonomous administrations in Kurdish-majority areas.
Kurds join with Arabs to form the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
They oust IS from key areas including the jihadists’ de facto capital Raqa in 2017, and then in 2019 their last Syrian holdout, the village of Baghuz.
In October IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed during a US special services operation in northwestern Syria.
Russia steps in
In September 2015 Russia launches airstrikes in support of Assad’s troops, in a campaign that will prove to be a turning point in the war.
In a string of deadly campaigns, the regime retakes key rebel bastions, from Aleppo in 2016 to Eastern Ghouta in 2018.
In April 2017 a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun kills more than 80 people.
US President Donald Trump unleashes missile strikes against the regime’s Shayrat airbase.
In April 2018, the US, with the support of France and Britain, launches retaliatory strikes after an alleged regime chemical attack on the then rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus.
Turkish offensive against Kurds
On October 9, 2019, Ankara launches an offensive targeting Kurdish forces in Syria, whom it brands “terrorists” linked to Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
It follows Washington’s decision to withdraw US forces from the Turkey-Syria border area.
Turkey and its Syrian proxies have since taken a 120-kilometre by 30-kilometre stretch of the border.
Battle for Idlib
Since mid-December, the Syrian regime and its ally Russia have ramped up their bombardments of Idlib province in the northwest, involving ground battles with jihadists and rebels.
Damascus vows to reconquer the region, run by the powerful Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist alliance, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Lebanon’s judiciary has received a red notice from Interpol for the arrest of fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn, the state-run National News Agency reported on Thursday.
It quoted Justice Minister Albert Sarhan as announcing that “the public prosecutor… has received what is known as a red notice from Interpol in the Carlos Ghosn case.”
The French-Lebanese former Nissan boss, who had been under house arrest in Japan over several counts of financial misconduct, escaped in mysterious circumstances and arrived in Beirut on Monday.
Interpol, which is headquartered in the French city of Lyon, is an international organisation that facilitates worldwide police cooperation.
An Interpol ‘red notice’ is a request to police across the world to provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action. It is not an arrest warrant.
A Lebanese judicial source has already told AFP however that Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition agreement under which Ghosn — who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian nationalities — could be sent back to Tokyo
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the Beirut home of Lebanon’s new prime minister on Saturday, calling for Hassan Diab’s resignation less than 10 days after he was appointed.
Lebanon is without a cabinet and in the grips of a deepening economic crisis after a two-month-old protest movement forced Saad Hariri to stand down as prime minister on October 29.
Anti-government protests continued after Hariri’s resignation, while political parties negotiated for weeks before nominating Diab, a professor and former education minister, to replace him on December 19.
Echoing protester demands, Diab promised to form a government of independent experts within six weeks — in a country where appointing a cabinet can take months.
But protesters on Saturday were unconvinced by his promise.
“We’re here to bring down Hassan Diab. He doesn’t represent us. He’s one of them,” said one young demonstrator, referring to the country’s ruling elite, who protesters despise collectively.
Lina, another protester agreed, saying: “It’s the revolution that must name the prime minister, not them.”
The 60-year-old Diab, who has a low public profile and styles himself as a technocrat, last week called protester demands legitimate but asked them to give him a chance to form “an exceptional government”.
“We are willing to give him a chance, but let us at least give him a roadmap,” Lina told AFP.
“The names don’t matter to us, we want policy plans, what is his programme?” she asked.
Protesters decry Diab’s participation as a minister in a government deemed corrupt.
The support given to him by powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah also angers many protesters and pro-Hariri Sunnis.
Protesters also gathered in the northern Sunni majority city of Tripoli on Saturday, an AFP photographer said.
The protests and political deadlock have brought Lebanon to its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
The international community has urged a new cabinet to be formed swiftly to implement economic reforms and unlock international aid.
Lebanon’s caretaker finance minister accused the country’s banks on Tuesday of “trapping” civil servants’ salaries with withdrawal limits that have fuelled public anger in the crisis-stricken country.
“What is happening in some Lebanese banks is unacceptable,” Ali Hassan Khalil wrote on Twitter.
“They are trapping the salaries of (state) employees that are transferred by the finance ministry every month.”
Rocked by two months of anti-government protests and a political deadlock, Lebanon is also facing its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
A liquidity crunch has pushed Lebanese banks to impose capital controls on dollar accounts, capping withdrawals at around $1,000 a month. Some have imposed even tighter restrictions.
Some have also capped weekly withdrawals of the Lebanese pound at one million — the equivalent of $660 at official rates — even as the currency has plunged by nearly a third against the dollar on the black market in recent weeks.
The tightening controls have prompted a public uproar, with many accusing banks of robbing them of their savings.
On Tuesday, Khalil said it was a “sacred right” of civil servants to be paid in full and on time.
“It is not permissible for this right to be violated,” he said, vowing legal action to ensure public servants can access their salaries in full.
At banks in the northern city of Tripoli, tensions soared Tuesday as clients struggled to withdraw their salaries, said an AFP correspondent there.
A fight broke out in a branch near the city’s main protest camp after the bank refused to let a customer withdraw dollars.
An anti-government street movement has rocked the small Mediterranean country since October 17.
Bowing to popular pressure, the government resigned two weeks into demonstrations.
Since then, a potential default on Lebanon’s huge public debt has heightened the economic and political crisis.
The faltering economy has pushed many companies into bankruptcy, while others have laid off staff and slashed salaries.
A recession of more than 0.2 percent is expected for this year, the World Bank says.
In its first step towards forming an urgently-needed government, President Michel Aoun last week designated engineering professor Hassan Diab as the country’s next prime minister, replacing Saad Hariri who quit in late October in the face of mass protests.
Diab, a self-styled technocrat, has vowed to form a cabinet of independent experts within six weeks.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun will name Hezbollah-backed Hassan Diab as the protest-hit country’s prime minister, the presidency said Thursday, ending nearly two months of political wrangling.
“After binding parliamentary consultations… the president has summoned… Hassan Diab to appoint him to form a government,” the presidency said in a statement after the twice-delayed talks ended on Thursday.