(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NISSAN BOSS, CARLOS GHOSN, SAYING: "For the first time since this nightmare began I can defend myself, speak freely." And speak freely he did.
In his first public comments since fleeing to Lebanon from Japan the ousted Nissan boss and international fugitive Carlos Ghosn attempted a point-by-point rebuttal of the charges against him aided by internal Nissan company documents, accused Tokyo prosecutors of brutal treatment and launched a blistering attack on the Japanese authorities and Nissan executives he says conspired against him.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NISSAN BOSS, CARLOS GHOSN, SAYING: "I am here to clear my name and to pronounce clearly and emphatically something that was interpreted as a heresy in the Japanese judicial system.
These allegations are untrue and I should have never been arrested in the first place." Ghosn said Nissan and Japanese authorities had colluded for two reasons: one was a revenge for the French government's interference in Nissan's alliance with Renault.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NISSAN BOSS, CARLOS GHOSN, SAYING: "Some of our Japanese friends thought the only way to get rid of influence of Renault on Nissan is to get rid of me." Another, Ghosn said, was a downturn in Nissan's fortunes after he stepped down as CEO in 2017 to focus on his role as chairman at Mitsubishi - which the alliance had acquired the year before.
He identified the architects of his downfall at Nissan as Masakazu Toyoda, an independent director and special adviser to the Japanese Cabinet; Nissan's ex-auditor Hidetoshi Imazu; and the car company's former executive vice president Hitoshi Kawaguchi.
Toyoda, Imazu, Kawaguchi and Nissan officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Ghosn fled Japan while awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NISSAN BOSS, CARLOS GHOSN, SAYING: "Having endured more than 400 days of inhuman treatment in a system designed to break me and unwilling to provide me even minimal justice, I was left with no other choice but to protect myself and my family." Ghosn became most animated, however, when describing how he believes the Renault-Nissan alliance had lost its way since his departure - falling behind in benchmarks like profitability, market value and investment in technology, and failing to seize opportunities such as a potential tie-up with Fiat Chrysler.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER NISSAN BOSS, CARLOS GHOSN, SAYING: "But it's unbelievable.
How can you lose that?" The Tokyo prosecutors' office said Ghosn's allegations "completely ignore his own conduct" and that one-sided criticism of the Japanese criminal justice system is totally unacceptable.