A court sketch, drawn by Nobutoshi Katsuyama, shows ousted Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman Carlos Ghosn during an open hearing at Tokyo District Court in Japan, Jan. 8, 2019.
A court sketch, drawn by Nobutoshi Katsuyama, shows ousted Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman Carlos Ghosn during an open hearing at Tokyo District Court in Japan, Jan. 8, 2019.

TOKYO - Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn, in his first interview since his arrest in November, blamed fellow executives opposed to forging closer ties with the automaker’s French alliance partner Renault for scheming against him, the Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported Wednesday.

The financial daily said it spoke with Ghosn for 20 minutes earlier in the day at the Tokyo Detention Center, where the 64-year-old star executive has been held since Nov. 19.

Earlier, Ghosn only was allowed visits by his lawyers and embassy officials.

FILE - Passersby are silhouetted as a huge street monitor broadcasts news reporting ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn's indictment and re-arrest in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 10, 2018.
Ex-Nissan Chairman Ghosn Asks for Bail, Promises Not to Flee
Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on Monday asked for his release on bail from a two-month detention in Japan, promising he will report to prosecutors daily and wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet. "As the court considers my bail application, I want to emphasize that I will reside in Japan and respect any and all bail conditions the court concludes are warranted," he said in a statement shared with The Associated Press through a representative of Ghosn and his family. "I am not guilty of…

Prosecutors have charged Ghosn with falsifying financial reports in under-reporting his compensation. He has also been indicted on charges of breach of trust related to his handling of investment losses and to payments made to a Saudi businessman.

In the interview, Ghosn reiterated that he is innocent and said others in the company schemed to force him out with a “plot and treason.”

“People translated strong leadership to (mean) dictator, to distort reality,” he told the Nikkei. It was for the “purpose of getting rid of me,” he was quoted as saying.

Nissan Motor Co. defended itself, saying prosecutors took action following an internal investigation set off by whistleblowers in the company.

“The sole cause of this chain of events is the misconduct led by Ghosn and Kelly,” company spokesman Nicholas Maxfield said. He was referring to Greg Kelly, another executive who has been charged with collaborating with Ghosn in underreporting his compensation. Kelly was released on bail last month and remains in Tokyo.

French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux declined to comment when asked about Ghosn’s interview.

Authorities have rejected Ghosn’s requests for bail, saying he might tamper with evidence or possibly flee.

Ghosn told the Nikkei he had no intention of fleeing and wants to defend himself in court. But he questioned why he could not gain release on bail.

“I don’t understand why I am still being detained,” he was quoted as saying, adding he could not tamper with evidence because “All the evidence is with Nissan.”

The newspaper said Ghosn did not appear tired or flustered and when asked about his health, he said he was “doing fine.”

“In life there are ups and downs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Renault SA owns 43 percent of Nissan. It sent Ghosn to Japan in 1999 to help lead the Japanese automaker’s turnaround from near bankruptcy. Ghosn said he had discussed a “plan to integrate” Nissan with Renault and their smaller alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. with Nissan’s CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, in September.

The plan was to bring Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors closer together and ensure they had “autonomy under one holding company,” he told the newspaper.

FILE - President and Chief Executive Officer of Nissan Motor Co., Carlos Ghosn speaks during a press conference in Yokohama, near Tokyo, May 11, 2012.
Ghosn Case Shines Light on Japan Justice System
Since his arrest on suspicion of falsifying financial reports, Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been sitting in a humble cell for more than a month, interrogated day in and day out, without a lawyer present. His case is drawing attention to the criminal justice system in Japan, where there is no presumption of innocence and the accused can be held for months before trial. The system, sometimes called “hostage justice,” has come under fire from human rights advocates.When a court denied Tokyo…

Nissan dismissed Ghosn as chairman shortly after his arrest. He was also dismissed as chairman of Mitsubishi. Earlier this month, he resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault and was replaced by Jean-Donimique Senard, the former chairman of Michelin.

Ghosn refuted various allegations against him, saying most of the alleged violations were approved by Nissan’s legal department or other senior executives.

He also denied any wrongdoing in buying expensive homes in Brazil and Lebanon, saying he needed a safe place to work and meet with people. The homes were no secret and if they had been a problem, he should have been consulted, Ghosn said.