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

BOSTON, Oct 30 (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.

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 their country.

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 State Department’s decision.

The Justice Department argued the Taylors now want to re-litigate arguments against their extradition that a federal magistrate judge rejected in September.

“The Taylors’ eleventh-hour bid to thwart their extradition is meritless,” prosecutors wrote.

The Taylors’ lawyers did not respond to request for comment. They have said they plan to ask the State Department and White House to reconsider the extradition decision.

Prosecutors say the Taylors facilitated a brazen escape in which Ghosn fled 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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