Turkey stops pilots for the escape of Carlos Ghosn through Istanbul

ISTANBUL: Turkish police arrested seven people, including four pilots, on Thursday in an investigation into how they expelled the Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn He traveled through Istanbul en route to Lebanon after fleeing Japan, a police spokeswoman told Reuters.

She said the other detainees were two airport ground workers and a cargo worker and that the seven had to make statements in court on Thursday.

Media reports said the Turkish Interior Ministry had begun an investigation into the transit of Ghosn. The former Nissan chief revealed Tuesday that he had fled to Beirut to escape what he called a manipulated justice system.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Ghosn, one of the world's best known executives, had arrived in Beirut by private plane from Istanbul on Monday.

The Hurriyet news website, citing an official from the Ministry of Interior, said the Turkish border police were not notified of Ghosn's arrival, and that neither his entry nor his exit were recorded.

A plane carrying Ghosn arrived at 5:30 am (0230 GMT) on Monday at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, Hurriyet said, adding that prosecutors ordered the arrests after further investigation.

Flight tracking data from that era suggests that Ghosn used two different planes to fly to Istanbul and then to Lebanon.

The Japanese authorities allowed Ghosn to carry a spare French passport in a locked box while on bail, the public broadcaster NHK said Thursday, shedding some light on how he managed to escape to Lebanon.

The businessman, who owns French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, was smuggled out of Tokyo by a private security company days ago, the culmination of a plan that was drawn up for three months, Reuters reported.

Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 and faces four charges, which include hiding income and enriching himself through payments to car dealers in the Middle East. He denies the charges.