Lebanon denies president welcomed fugitive Ghosn

Several media outlets reported that Carlos Ghosn (top) was welcomed home by Lebanese President Michel Aoun (above) on Tuesday, but a senior Lebanese presidency official yesterday denied the two men had met.
Several media outlets reported that Carlos Ghosn (left) was welcomed home by Lebanese President Michel Aoun (right) on Tuesday, but a senior Lebanese presidency official yesterday denied the two men had met.

BEIRUT • Lebanon has received an Interpol arrest warrant for fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, while the Lebanese authorities denied reports that President Michel Aoun had welcomed Ghosn upon his arrival in the country.

Ghosn became an international fugitive after he revealed on Tuesday that he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a "rigged" justice system in Japan.

The Interpol red notice, which calls on the authorities to arrest a wanted person, was received yesterday by Lebanon's internal security forces and has yet to be referred to the judiciary, a source told Reuters.

In previous cases where Lebanon had received red notices for its citizens resident in the country, the suspects were not detained but their passports were confiscated and bail set, the judicial source said.

The French-Lebanese tycoon, who was under house arrest in Japan over several counts of financial misconduct, escaped in mysterious circumstances and arrived in Beirut on Monday.

Several media outlets reported that he had been greeted by Mr Aoun, but a senior presidency official denied the two men had met. "He was not received at the presidency and did not meet the president," the official said yesterday.

Ghosn said in a statement from Lebanon on Tuesday that he would "finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week".

One of his lawyers in Lebanon, Mr Carlos Abou Jaoude, said a date for the press conference had yet to be determined. But Japan's Yomiuri newspaper has reported that Ghosn is planning a press conference on Jan 8 in Beirut.

The Lebanese authorities had pressed Japan to return Ghosn, just a week before he fled the country, the Financial Times said.

 
 
 

Ghosn entered Lebanon on a French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.

Several jurisdictions allow people to have two passports from the same country - for example if they are frequent travellers constantly needing visas.

The Japanese government is likely to ask Lebanon to extradite Ghosn, but chances of his handover appear slim as Beirut has no extradition accord with Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the French government yesterday said it would not extradite Ghosn if he arrived in the country because it does not extradite its nationals.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Lebanon denies president welcomed fugitive Ghosn'. Print Edition | Subscribe