Disgraced former Nissan Motor boss Carlos Ghosn has fled to Lebanon from Japan, where he faces trial on charges of financial misconduct.
Ghosn said in a statement he "will no longer be held hostage" by what he called "a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant and basic human rights are denied".
"I have not fled justice," Ghosn said. "I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week."
The former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance did not say how he left Japan, where he has been for over a year.
Ghosn, who was first arrested in November 2018 and spent more than 100 days in Japanese detention, has been charged with breach of trust and falsifying financial documents to under-report his income for years. He denies the allegations and was released on bail in April.
The Brazilian-born French businessman, who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian citizenship, spent his childhood years in Lebanon and still owns a home in an upmarket suburb there. He had often visited Beirut and established relations with Lebanese high-ranking politicians, businessmen and public figures.
Selim Jreissati, Lebanese state minister and adviser to President Michel Aoun, told the Lebanese An Nahar daily that Ghosn entered Lebanon legally.
"I have no information about the circumstances of Mr Carlos Ghosn's departure in Japan. All we have is that he entered Lebanon legally through Rafik al-Hariri international airport with his French passport and Lebanese identity," Jreissati said.
He added that in his last meeting with the Japanese deputy foreign minister, he submitted a file to the Japanese authorities that Ghosn must be extradited to Lebanon legally for trial under the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Ghosn's Lebanese lawyer Carlos Abu Jaoude told dpa by phone: "We will not give any comment but there will be a presser next week."
The Tokyo District Court set stringent conditions for Ghosn's release, including limitations on where he can live in Japan, a ban on overseas travel and measures to prevent him from fleeing and tampering with evidence.
He was not allowed to see his Lebanese wife without being granted special permission.
The court said on Tuesday the terms of Ghosn's bail remain unchanged, banning him from travelling abroad, Kyodo News reported.
How Ghosn managed to apparently skip bail and leave Tokyo for Beirut is still unclear.
Japan's immigration office had no record of Ghosn leaving the country, NHK reported. The French foreign ministry said that while Ghosn has been provided consular services, it was not informed in advance of his departure.
Junichiro Hironaka, who leads Ghosn's defence team, told reporters that they know nothing other than media reports.
"We were taken by surprise. I will tell the Tokyo District Court we are also at a loss," Hironaka said. If his departure is true, that would mean he "has violated bail conditions".
He said the lawyers had all of Ghosn's three passports and was puzzled by how he could have left the country.
Meanwhile, Japan would need Lebanon's co-operation to have Ghosn extradited as the country does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.
The 65-year-old arrived at Beirut international airport late on Sunday on board a private jet, Lebanese television LBC reported earlier.
Ghosn was dismissed as chairman of Nissan and partner firm Mitsubishi Motors last year following his arrest.
He stepped down as head of Renault, the leading firm in the three-way alliance, in January.
Ghosn, who was sent to Nissan by Renault under a capital alliance, spearheaded a turnaround about two decades ago, helping rescue the Japanese car-maker from the brink of bankruptcy.
Australian Associated Press