Allegations that customs officers abused their powers by detaining a family in order to discover the details of a new book represent a new encroachment on freedom in New Zealand, ACT Leader David Seymour says.

“The claims, made earlier today online, are that Customs stopped a person carrying a manuscript, the forward of which was written by author and investigative journalist Nicky Hager. According to the account, customs officers detained a family, searched their luggage, demanded to know what the book was about, and threatened ‘dire consequences’ if the information wasn’t provided.

“If these allegations are true, they are completely outrageous. There is no legitimate reason for customs officers to carry out such a search.

“This incident appears to represent yet another encroachment on freedom in New Zealand. It is vital that the rule of law is upheld. Authorities must act within the law and observe due process.

“Every citizen, including activists and whistleblowers, should be free to express themselves without being intimidated or subjected to arbitrary detention by the state.

“On the face of it, Customs has abused its powers. The Customs Minister must immediately investigate this incredibly serious matter.”