Nissan ex-chair Ghosn describes Japan arrest as a plot

Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks at a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon. [Reuters]

Nissan’s fugitive ex-boss, Carlos Ghosn, yesterday described his arrest in Japan, from which he escaped last month, as a plot against him and his detention conditions as a “travesty” against human rights.

Ghosn (pictured) was defensive as he held a news conference in Beirut - his first appearance since fleeing Japan last month in a high-risk operation. He said the decision to escape the country, where he was due to stand trial for alleged financial misconduct at the automaker, “was the most difficult of my life.”

The former auto industry titan dismissed all allegations against him as untrue, saying; “I should never have been arrested in the first place.”

“I’m not above the law and I welcome the opportunity for the truth to come out and have my name cleared,” he told a packed room of journalists.

Ghosn smuggled himself from Tokyo to Beirut in late December, arriving in the Lebanese capital where he grew up and is regarded by many as a national hero.

Ghosn’s daring and improbable escape has perplexed and embarrassed Japanese authorities after he skipped bail and fled the country despite supposedly rigorous surveillance. Media reports have said that he left his residence alone, met two men at a Tokyo hotel, and then took a bullet train to Osaka before boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for a musical equipment. He flew to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived December 30.

Yesterday, Ghosn portrayed his arrest as a plot linked to a decline in the financial performance of Nissan. Ghosn had been in favour of merging Nissan with industry ally Renault, of which he was also chairman.

“Unfortunately there was no trust. And some of our Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of Renault in Nissan is to get rid of me,” he said.