A far-right conspiracy theorist who claimed he was denied entry into New Zealand because he was questioning the Government and media was actually turned away because of his criminal conviction.
Avi Yemini, a Melbourne-based far-right conspiracy theorist, claimed on Monday he was checking into his flight when Qantas told him Immigration New Zealand had flagged his passport.
He said he was later told by an immigration officer he was being denied entry into Aotearoa. Yemini claimed he was barred from the country because his "presence in the country threatens the mainstream media and government narrative".
But Immigration New Zealand told Newshub on Tuesday Yemini was denied entry because he has a criminal conviction.
In 2019 the conspiracy theorist was convicted of unlawful assault against his former wife.
Immigration NZ acting general manager of border and visa operations Michael Carley told Newshub non-citizens must meet certain criteria to enter the country, which he did not.
"The onus is on the person to satisfy Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that they meet all of the visa and entry requirements for New Zealand, including being of good character," Carley said.
"We can confirm that Mr Avi Yemini was denied boarding his flight from Australia to New Zealand as he did not meet the immigration requirements due to his criminal conviction.
"Where an individual does not meet character requirements, they should apply through the usual visa application process. They will need to supply a police certificate with their application to have a character waiver considered."
It comes after prominent anti-mandate protester Chantelle Baker claimed Yemini was travelling to New Zealand to join the protest at Parliament.
Baker, a self-proclaimed 'news personality', was a prominent figure in the anti-mandate protests at Parliament earlier this year, during which she made false claims including that police officers started the fires despite video footage showing otherwise. She also shared information that contradicted public health advice.
It's not unusual for people to be barred from entering New Zealand if they have a criminal conviction. In Fact, according to Immigration NZ's website applicants for all visas must be able to show they are of good character.
When applying for a visa people must make Immigration NZ aware of any potential issues or activities which might put their character in question.
Applicants must tell Immigration NZ if they have been involved in criminal or racist activities or have provided false or misleading information to officials in the past.
Issues that will result in a visa being declined include:
- Being convicted of an offence and sentenced to a prison term of 5 years or more
- Being convicted in the last 10 years of an offence and sentenced to a term in prison of 12 months or longer
- Being prohibited from entering New Zealand, or removed, excluded or deported from any country, including New Zealand.