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HIGHLIGHTS-Fugitive former Nissan boss Ghosn holds news conference

BEIRUT, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Fugitive former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn spoke to the media in Beirut on Wednesday after fleeing to Beirut last month from Tokyo, where he had been awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct.

Following are some of his comments:

RENAULT-NISSAN INTEGRATION

"I was ready to retire before June 2018... I unfortunately accepted this offer to continue to integrate the two companies (Renault and Nissan).

"Some of my Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan, was to get rid of me."

DEPRIVATION, INTERROGATION

"I was brutally taken from my work as I knew it, ripped from my work, my family and my friends.

"It is impossible to express the depth of that deprivation and my profound appreciation to be able to be reunited with my family and loved ones.

"(I was) interrogated for up eight hours a day without any lawyers present.

"'It will get worse for you if you don't just confess', the prosecutor told me repeatedly."

HERE TO CLEAR MY NAME

"I am not here to talk about how I left Japan... I am here to talk about why. I am here to shed light on a system that violates the most basic (human rights).

"I am here to clear my name. These allegations are untrue and I should never have been arrested in the first place.

GREG KELLY

"(Former Nissan colleague) Greg Kelly, an honourable man...Greg remains a victim of the Japanese hostage justice system."

PRESUMED GUILTY

"I was presumed guilty before the eyes of the world."

'A HANDFUL OF VINDICTIVE INDIVIDUALS'

"My unimaginable ordeal is the result of a handful of unscrupulous, vindictive individuals."

DECISION TO FLEE

"This (escape) was the most difficult decision of my life but I was facing a system where the conviction rate is 99.4%, and I believe this number is far higher for foreigners."

BASELESS CHARGES

"The charges against me are baseless.

"Why have they extended the investigation timeline, why have they rearrested me? Why were they so intent on preventing me from talking and setting out my facts?

"Why have they spent 14 months trying to break my spirit, barring any contact with my wife?

"(One reason) was that Nissan performance unfortunately started to decline at the beginning of 2017...in October 2016 I decided to remove myself from Nissan...because I signed a deal with Mitsubishi. I moved to Mitsubishi as chairman of the board."

(Editing by Keith Weir and Hugh Lawson)