British Pair Arrested in U.S. on Terror Charges over Twitter Jokes
Two British tourists were barred from entering America after joking on Twitter that they were going to ‘destroy America’ and ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe’.
Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.
The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read: ‘Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?’
Despite telling officials the term ‘destroy’ was British slang for ‘party’, they were held on suspicion of planning to ‘commit crimes’ and had their passports confiscated. Leigh was also quizzed about another tweet which quoted hit US comedy Family Guy which read: ‘3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!
Federal agents even searched his suitcase looking for spades and shovels, claiming Emily was planning to act as Leigh’s ‘look out’ while he raided Marilyn’s tomb.
Bar manager Leigh, from Coventry, and Emily, 24, from Birmingham, were then quizzed for five hours at LAX before they were handcuffed and put into a van with illegal immigrants and locked up overnight. They spent 12 hours in separate holding cells before being driven back to the airport where they were put on a plane home via Paris.
Leigh, an Irish national, and Emily arrived at Birmingham Airport last Wednesday afternoon. Emily said: ‘The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh’s tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do. ‘They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.
‘I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh’s lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. ‘I couldn’t believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show.
One of the first questions which come to my mind is how in the world did DHS come across this tweet? There are over 200 million tweets in any given 24 hours, and many of the words on the “watch list” are often not abnormal words in a typical conversation. There is even a long list of words having to do with weather such as “Flood, Storm, Crest , Extreme weather, Forest fire, Brush fire, Ice, Stranded/Stuck, Help, Hail, and Wildfire.”
Well, for one thing, I live in New Mexico and as many of you know, the Southwest last year was literally an inferno. Fire after fire erupted and spread like, well… wildfire. Arizona, Texas, and up near Los Alamos were devastated. And what if you’re a woman driving alone at night, car breaks down, and you tweet your friends for “help.” Will the DHS show up to assist you?
I would really like to know did the DHS come across Leigh’s two tweets and target him? Hell, for this matter, since I just posted a bunch of watch words and DHS several times, they’ll probably come knocking on my door tonight. So, my fellow bloggers… if I don’t make any comments within the next 6 hours, send HELP! (Ouch, there I go using that watch word again.)
Hold on, I’ll be back. The dogs are barking at something out front….