The FBI is assisting the Australian government in its investigation of actress Amber Heard on allegations she perjured herself during court proceedings when Heard smuggled her two dogs into the country in 2015, the Law&Crime Network has learned from a source familiar with the matter.
Heard brought the two teacup yorkies, Pistol and Boo, into Australia on a private jet in May 2015 while Johnny Depp was filming the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. This followed the March 2015 incident in Australia where the tip of his right middle finger was severed.
At the time, Australian authorities demanded Pistol and Boo be taken out of the country or euthanized. Australia has strict guidelines for bringing cats and dogs into the country due to concerns over biosecurity threats.
The website for Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry outlines the procedures for importing cats and dogs. The United States is a “category 3” country which requires a dog or cat to have a valid import permit, spend 10 days in quarantine, and then be examined by a government-approved veterinarian.
Depp flew the dogs back to the United States as the saga of Pistol and Boo created a media frenzy in Australia and around the globe.
Australian authorities charged Heard in July 2015 with illegally importing the dogs into country, according to the Daily Mail. In April 2016, Heard pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of falsifying travel documents and recorded a video, with Depp by her side, apologizing for the incident. Heard blamed jet lag and sleep deprivation for the error.
But Depp’s former estate manager, Kevin Murphy, testified to a much different story in 2020 at Depp’s libel trial against The Sun. According to reports from The Associated Press, Page Six and an Australian news website, Murphy testified that he repeatedly told Heard by email and phone that she could not take the dogs to Australia because the proper paperwork had not been completed and arrangements had not been made for the dogs to be quarantined. Murphy also testified that Heard wanted him to ask her former assistant, Kate James, to take the blame for Heard lying on forms where she did not declare Pistol and Boo.
During the UK trial, Heard also blamed Depp for the incident; she said he told her to send an email to find a veterinarian “to grease” as far back as 2013. A source tells Law&Crime that claim is absurd and that Depp did no such thing.
Retired FBI agent and attorney Bobby Chacon said it would not be unusual for the FBI to assist a foreign government with an investigation such as this one.
“The FBI maintains an office in Canberra and there are FBI Agents permanently assigned to Australia (on a rotating basis),” Chacon told Law&Crime. “Part of their mission is liaison and assistance so if the Australians needed something from here in the US they would certainly contact the FBI’s Australia Office and the FBI would likely assist.”
Australian authorities had said previously that the witnesses involved in the case “all live overseas.”
A spokesperson for the agency investigating Heard told Law&Crime last Thursday that “[t]he Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is investigating allegations of perjury by Ms. Heard during court proceedings for the 2015 illegal importation of two dogs into Australia.”
“As the matter is ongoing, the department cannot make any further comment,” the agency concluded.
The Law&Crime Network has reached out to the agency three times over the last two months and has received the same response each time. A spokesperson would not comment on whether the FBI was assisting due to the ongoing investigation but also did not deny it.
During an Australian Senate committee hearing in October 2021, Senator Glenn Sterle appeared incensed that Heard had not yet been charged. At that point, he said the investigation had been underway for more than 12 months.
“How can it take 12 months?” Sterle asked. “We know the evidence that was there. In there came the celebrities that thought they were above Australia’s biosecurity laws?”
“Do I need to have a Senate inquiry on it?” Sterle continued.
In response, Australia’s Director of Biosecurity, Andrew Metcalfe, told Sterle that all of the individuals involved in the dog incident live overseas. Therefore, he said the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and prosecutors had to rely on help from “foreign collaborating bodies.”
Andrew Tongue, Chair of the National Biosecurity Committee, spoke carefully about the investigation.
“We can only get a conviction if we work with our partners at the AFP and the director of public prosecutions and with international partners,” Tongue said. “As much as we might want to pursue this matter, we have to go in the queue behind all the other matters that those organizations are dealing with and our international partners are dealing with . . . we’re pursuing the matter and we don’t intend to go away on it.”
During the 2022 defamation trial in Fairfax, Virginia, it appeared Depp’s attorney, Camille Vasquez, tried to ask about the dog incident while cross-examining Heard. However, Heard’s lawyer, Elaine Bredehoft, objected. After a brief sidebar, the topic was not broached again.
A spokesperson for Heard did not respond to a request for comment about the Australian investigation.
An email sent to FBI Headquarters in Washington asking about the FBI’s assistance in the case has not received a response as of Monday. Typically, however, FBI does not comment on active investigations. Attempts to reach an FBI spokesperson by phone were unsuccessful, likely due to the holiday weekend.
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