“Have passport, will travel” is no longer an option for Michael Jackson.
The embattled entertainer has been forced to turn over his passport, which was briefly his possession for a promotional trip to Great Britain that authorities suspect never took place.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon initially confiscated Jackson’s passport when the “Thriller” singer turned himself in to authorities Nov. 20 on charges of child molestation.
The passport was returned, based on a deal brokered between the D.A. and Jackson’s attorneys, to allow the pop superstar to travel to Britain between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 to fulfill some previously scheduled dates to promote his new hits album, Number Ones.
On Dec. 22, Sneddon demanded that Jackson hand over his passport or prove that he was going ahead with the tour in response to reports that the onetime King of Pop had nixed his Brit trip.
Two days later, Sneddon issued a statement saying the matter had been resolved.
It’s unclear if Jackson ever left the country during the time in question. What’s not up for debate is that he was home for Christmas. More than 18 million eyewitnesses watched his sit-down with 60 Minutes’ Ed Bradley, which put Jackson in Los Angeles on Dec. 25.
Meanwhile, the media are seeking more than Jackson’s travel documents. Attorneys for NBC, CBS and CNN are asking a judge to unseal the court records relating to the November search of Neverland, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The documents were originally sealed until Dec. 31, but Sneddon and defense attorney Mark Geragos managed to persuade another judge to extend the no-show period “until at a minimum, the arraignment in this matter.” Jackson is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 16, when the motion to unseal the documents could be heard.
The media lawyers are demanding an explanation for the sealed documents, which they argue violates the public’s constitutional rights of access to the info.
“The First Amendment and California law are clear on this issue,” attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. told the Times Tuesday. “If there is a need to seal something that is particularly delicate, you have to explain it fully, and you have to avoid just keeping all information away from the public.”