Ghosn fled Japan after the security firm commissioned by Nissan stopped monitoring

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By Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) – Repressed Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn left his Tokyo residence after a private security firm hired by Nissan Motor Co ceased surveillance. This told Reuters on Saturday three sources familiar with the matter.

Ghosn has become an international refugee after he announced on Tuesday that he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a "manipulated" judicial system in Japan, where he was charged with alleged financial crimes.

Nissan had hired a private security company to monitor Ghosn, who was on bail and awaiting trial, to see if he had found anyone involved in the case, the three sources said.

But his lawyers warned the security firm to stop monitoring him as this would violate his human rights, and Ghosn planned to file a complaint against the company.

The security company suspended surveillance until December 29, sources said.

One of his lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, told reporters in November that they were considering taking steps to prevent people from persecuting Ghosn.

A Nissan spokesman declined to comment.

The Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing investigative sources, that a surveillance camera that had been set up by the authorities in Ghosn's house left him alone around noon on Sunday and did not bring him back.

It is unclear how Ghosn, who is a French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizen, was able to orchestrate his departure from Japan. He entered Lebanon legally with a French passport, a source told Reuters.

A Turkish private jet operator said Friday that Ghosn illegally used two of its planes to flee Japan, with an employee falsifying rental contract documents to remove his name from the documents.

Ghosn has announced that he will speak publicly about his escape on January 8.

Takashi Takano, who is also one of Ghosn's lawyers, wrote in his blog on Saturday that he felt angry and cheated when he heard about Ghosn's flight from Japan, but he understood.

"I was cheated. But it is not Carlos Ghosn who cheated on me," he wrote on his blog.

Takano said Ghosn was not allowed to communicate with his wife Carole without permission, and the ex-Nissan boss was also concerned about his chances of getting a fair trial.

On December 24, Ghosn and his wife made a one-hour video call that required the presence of a lawyer, and they talked about their children, relatives, and friends, Takano wrote. Takano was present during the video call.

Few people would have been able to escape like Ghosn, but if they had the means and contacts, they could certainly try, or at least consider, Takano wrote.

Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November 2018, shortly after his private jet landed at the airport. He faces four charges – which he denies – including hiding income and enriching himself with payments to traders in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Maki Shiraki and Norihiko Shirouzu, writing by Kaori Kaneko; editing by Kim Coghill and Frances Kerry)