An Australian social media influencer, Tori Ann Lyla Hunter, claims that she was financially extorted by lawyers and police officers in Bali earlier this month because she had brought prescription medication on her trip to the island. However, her extortion claims have been refuted by lawyers and police officers.
“For those who don’t know… I never made it through customs in Bali for bringing my own prescription medication into the country,” Hunter said in a post to her Instagram account that was posted on Tuesday.
“I spent 4 days locked up but was facing 5 years in a Balinese jail. Instead they extorted me for $39,482 (USD 26,776).”
In the now-deleted Instagram video, Hunter includes a number of clips that appear to have been taken in Bali. In one of them she writes that she was “strip searched and finger f**cked by some customs chick,” and said that she was given “plain bread for dinner like I’m a street dog” in another.
The 25-year-old has set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to recover the money she’d allegedly been forced to pay for her freedom. She also used the page to describe her experience in more detail, claiming that she was “personally targeted” because of her status as a social media model.
“They assumed I’m loaded and then came up with a list that states my medications as a class A drug there,” Hunter wrote, adding that her conversation with the Australian Embassy in Indonesia led her to believe that no such list actually exists.
Hunter, who has over 120,000 followers on Instagram, said “the corrupt lawyers and policeman asked for $39,600 (USD 26,856) as a bribe to set me free,” citing a slightly different amount here than the one she posted on Instagram.
The Bali Police have refuted Hunter’s claims, and stressed that officers behaved ethically in processing her case.
“We never received a penny of the amount she mentioned,” Bali Police spokesman Hengky Widjaja told ABC Indonesia.
Hengky said customs authorities at the Ngurah Rai International Airport had found her medications, diazepam and dextroamphetamine, which were later examined further. He explained that Hunter was able to present them with the prescription and an explanation of her medical condition from Australia.
“We then asked for a doctor at the National Police to conduct an examination, and it was explained that the drugs were indeed meant to treat her medical condition, which was bipolar spectrum disorder and addiction,” Hengky added.
Hunter claims she was detained for four days. Police said she was eventually released because “the medicine she brought was in accordance with her illness and conditions.”
Diazepam, which is another name for Valium, is one of the drugs that requires a doctor’s prescription in Indonesia.
Indonesia is notorious for its harsh drug laws and many foreigners have been arrested in the past for having illegal narcotics in their possession upon entering the country, including medical marijuana.
Jupiter Lalwani, a managing partner at the Bali-based law firm that represented Hunter, Legal Nexus, said that he was “very surprised” that Hunter would “casually make a baseless and malicious accusation” toward her attorneys and the authorities.
He did not disclose the exact amount paid by Hunter due to client confidentiality rules, but said the fees she ended up paying were based on the legal services they provided her and that she was made fully aware of the costs when hiring them. He also dismissed her allegations of mistreatment.
“She was treated very well by the police and there was no mistreatment whatsoever at all from anyone’s side,” Jupiter said in a statement received by Coconuts Bali.
The statement also refuted her accusation that she was given “plain bread for dinner,” saying she was provided with all of the food and drink she requested. According to Jupiter, the Legal Nexus Law Firm is now considering reporting Hunter to the authorities for slander.
As reported by Australia’s news service 7News, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) did not provide a comment on Hunter’s case specifically due to privacy concerns. However, they did confirm they provided assistance to an Australian woman in Bali recently.
NOTE: This story has been updated to include a screengrab of the video Tori Ann Lyla Hunter initially posted on her Instagram, which has since been deleted.
Read more news and updates from Bali here.