Live blog: Barry Soper in human rights row after being BANNED from US stopover

Stay tuned for updates as top Kiwi broadcaster lashes back at Donald Trump with word play after being victimised by brutal new rules and/or not filling out a form he needed to fill out.

Sunday April 15, 6am: It’s there above the masthead of this morning’s Herald on Sunday. Top Kiwi broadcaster Barry Soper has been told he can’t board a plane to the United States because he hasn’t got his ESTA, which is very much like the James Ellroy novel-turned-popular-motion-picture LA Confidential about sex, organised crime and murder in 1950s Los Angeles.

“Broadcaster Barry Soper has been banned from flying through the United States,” leads the story.

“Soper, political editor for Newstalk ZB, was supposed to fly to London via Los Angeles on an Air New Zealand flight leaving Auckland on Friday night to report on Jacinda Ardern’s European trip. Instead he was blocked from boarding when he arrived at Auckland International Airport.

“Soper told the Herald On Sunday he did not realise he needed to apply for travel authorisation online as he would have spent only two hours in transit in Los Angeles. All travellers touching down on American soil are required to fill out the form at least 72 hours prior to departure – although at times it is approved within minutes. ‘I got to Auckland and that’s when the s*** hit the fan. They said the visa was still in process mode.’”

“Yesterday all hope of making the trip was dashed when he was advised his application had been declined. ‘In almost 40 years of international travel covering ten prime ministers, this is the first time it’s ever happened to me.’”

Soper, who has a wife, “believes a visit to Iraq in 2015 with former prime minister Sir John Key may have been the reason for his rejection – although he has travelled to the US without issue since then.”

He added: “What damage I could have done from the confines of a transit lounge at the airport is beyond me.”

Sunday April 15, 8am: No word yet from the NZ prime minister or human rights groups.

Sunday April 15, 9pm: While we await further developments, was this the column that led to top Kiwi broadcaster Soper being refused egress into the land of opportunity? Not the bit when he urged Jacinda Ardern to “drop her guard” and be more open like John Key was when he talked about peeing in the shower and having had a vasectomy, but when he called President Trump “doolally”?

Sunday April 15, 11.25pm:

Monday April 16, 5.00am: Three nights have now elapsed since Washington DC prevented top Kiwi broadcaster Barry Soper from taking his seat on an Air Dreamliner, and the scandal shows no sign of abating. The scoop was the second most viewed story on NZ’s second most viewed news website yesterday. Tāwhirimātea is stirred. Will the rain never stop?

Monday April 16, 5.30am: If the White House thought they could reject late-filed ESTAs with impunity, they hadn’t reckoned on top Kiwi broadcaster Barry Soper. In an opinion article, Soper lets rip via a series of fearless paragraphs and word play.

“I’ve been grounded, not for committing a crime but it seems for visiting Iraq with John Key to visit our troops in Camp Taji three years ago,” he writes.

After a bit he says: “It’s a pity, it would have been interesting to see Jacinda Ardern meeting Emmanuel Macron, the French President in Paris tonight and then going on to Berlin to pay a call on Europe’s most influential woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not to mention her private audience with the Queen on Thursday.”

And then he says: “The Americans and their nonsensical rules have put paid to that. To add insult to injury, even before they decided I was persona non grata they charged the application fee to my credit card!”

And then following several other paragraphs comes the mic drop: “But it’s given me time to reflect on how travel’s changed over the years. Certainly Donald Trump’s living up to his strapline by making America grate again!”

Monday April 16, 5.58am: Top Kiwi broadcasters Mike Hosking and Kate Hawkesby have addressed the plight of their colleague, top Kiwi broadcaster Barry Soper, during the bit when they chat between their morning shows on Newstalk ZB. Transcript follows.

Kate Hawkesby: Welcome into the studio, Mike Hosking.

Mike Hosking: Good to see you. A moment’s silence – just listening to Claire Trevett of course and under different circumstances we might’ve –

Kate Hawkesby: Could’ve been Barry!

Mike Hosking: Been listening to Barry Soper.

Kate Hawkesby: Oh, what could have been.

Mike Hosking: Who is stuck at home. Is it the Esta? Is that the problem, that he didn’t get it?

Kate Hawkesby: I don’t know which visa it was that he didn’t have, but I do want to get to the bottom of it.

Mike Hosking: What sort of a form didn’t he fill in? So poor old Barry’s at the airport – there’s nothing worse, you’re dealing with Friday night traffic, of course –

Kate Hawkesby: Shocker.

Mike Hosking: And you battle your way out to the airport to be told you can pack up and go back home, and poor old Bazza’s sitting at home this morning and –

Kate Hawkesby: And for political junkies, this is the stuff you live for.

Mike Hosking: Oh! Yeah, yeah yeah.

Kate Hawkesby: These trips. I mean this was a good wee junket.

Mike Hosking: If you missed the story over the weekend, Barry Soper, our political editor, failed to fill out the appropriate forms and as a result –

Both laughing.

Kate Hawkesby: Didn’t get the visa!

Mike Hosking: And as a result couldn’t get on the plane and therefore remains domiciled in New Zealand for the foreseeable.

Kate Hawkesby: I think it’s only because he was flying through the States.

Mike Hosking: Yeah but you got to fill out the forms.

Kate Hawkesby: Yes I know. But what I mean is there are other ways to get to Europe.

Mike Hosking: Why didn’t he fly Emirates? Could have gone through Dubai, gone up through Singapore.

Kate Hawkesby: Yup. I think he might’ve tried actually and it was all too late.

Mike Hosking: Is he banned on every airline? Is that what we’re finding out? (Wheezy laughter) Emirates won’t touch him. (More laughing and banging of desk with fist)

Kate Hawkesby: Is he on some kind of watchlist?

Mike Hosking laughs like an asthmatic puppy on nitrous

Kate Hawkesby: Barry Soper is on a watchlist!

Monday April 16, 12.15pm: Kiwi broadcaster Barry Soper has just been introduced on to Newstalk ZB with Michael Jackson’s banging 1987 chart-topper “Bad”.

“America’s Number One Enemy is surprisingly with us from Wellington,” says Andrew Dickens.

“I don’t think there was any need for that song at all,” says Soper.

“You’re bad,” says Dickens.

“I don’t think I’m bad,” says Soper.

“You’re bad,” says Dickens. “You’re bad.”

Monday April 16, 12.35pm:

 

More as the story develops


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