Airport strip-search linked to Kim Dotcom?

31 Aug 12

The girlfriend of a musician linked to Kim Dotcom was strip-searched and detained at Auckland airport after setting off a ‘red flag’ going through customs.

Los Angeles student Joia Stewart, who was held for hours, claimed she heard airport officials talking about Dotcom before being ordered to remove her clothing.

Yet as custom staff denies any link to Dotcom, Stewart insisted her trip to New Zealand stemmed purely from a birthday invite from her boyfriend Deryk Mitchell, who was also questioned for three hours.

After collecting her luggage, Stewart was questioned about her ticket – bought by Mitchell – and informed the purchase of a ticket by a third party, along with the recent granting of her passport raised concerns.

Yet a spokeswoman for Customs said Stewart was not detained because of any connection to Dotcom, although previous Dotcom associates have been detained and searched at Auckland Airport.

Donovan Leitch, a Hollywood documentary maker, faced similar questioning in March after arriving to discuss the prospect of making a film about the Dotcom case.

The news follows reports Dotcom has recovered $6m in seized funds from the government to pay for lawyers and living costs, currently totaling $3.6m.

An Auckland High Court yesterday cleared the way for the cash despite best efforts from police to shut down the Megaupload founders access to seized funds.

The money freed up covers current legal fees of $2.6m, estimated $1m future costs and a further $1m to cover rent for the $30m north Auckland mansion where he lives.

Dotcom was taken into custody in January this year along with three others, after being charged with ‘running an international organised criminal enterprise’ by the U.S. Justice Department.

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