Lebanon issues travel ban for ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, who fled Japan

The international saga over the fugitive former auto executive continues.

Prosecutors in Lebanon have issued a travel ban for Carlos Ghosn, the latest move in an international saga involving the fugitive former auto industry executive who jumped bail in Japan.

A Lebanese judge granted Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan and Renault, a residence permit but banned him from traveling after Interpol last week issued a wanted alert, Lebanese state media reported Thursday. Ghosn also was questioned by Lebanese authorities.

Lebanon, however, has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn was also asked to turn in his French passport, The Associated Press reported.

The interrogation by Lebanese officials came a day after Ghosn came out swinging against "vindictive individuals at Nissan" and Tokyo prosecutors at a news conference.

"For the first time since this nightmare began I can defend myself, speak freely and answer your questions," Ghosn told reporters. He refused, however, to divulge details about how he escaped Japan, which has been the subject of an international firestorm for over a week.

Ghosn had been under 24-hour surveillance at his Tokyo home awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct. He somehow slipped out of the country undetected on a private jet, arriving in his homeland of Lebanon Dec. 30. It has been widely reported he sneaked out of the country in a box typically used for audio equipment.

His charges in Japan include underreporting his income and a breach of trust involving "having a Nissan subsidiary transfer a massive amount of money to a deposit account in the name of a company effectively owned by him, for his own profit," according to Minister of Justice Masako Mori. Ghosn's charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, according to the AP.

Ghosn argued to reporters Wednesday, however, that "There is no democratic country I know where you go to jail for these kinds of accusations, even if they were right."

Nissan called its former chairman's escape "extremely regrettable" in a statement Tuesday, saying the company discovered numerous acts of misconduct by Ghosn "through a robust, thorough internal investigation."

"Ghosn's flight will not affect Nissan's basic policy of holding him responsible for the serious misconduct uncovered by the internal investigation," the statement added.