Jan. 30, 2012 -- A young couple from across the pond was detained at a Los Angeles airport after Homeland Security agents mistook a couple Twitter quips for threats against the U.S., the two told British media today.
Friends Irishman Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and British citizen Emily Bunting, 24, were reportedly interrogated and spent 12 hours locked up under armed guard after going through customs in Los Angeles International Airport last week. According to several British outlets, the couple was taken into custody by U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents because of the slang in Bryan's tweets.
"Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America," one of the tweets read. Bryan told The Sun that in this context "destroy" just meant party.
"The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist. I kept saying they had got the wrong meaning from my tweet but they just told me 'You've really f***ed up with that tweet, boy'," Bryan told The Sun.
Bryan had also tweeted that he planned to be "diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!" -- another joke, he said.
"The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh's tweet," Bunting told The Daily Mail. "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."
After spending the night in custody, Bryan and Bunting were reportedly put on a plane back home through Paris.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement in which the department confirmed that two people had been taken for "secondary interviews" and said that during those interviews, information was uncovered that "revealed both individuals were inadmissible to the United States."
"CBP strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States," the department told ABC News. "We recognize that there is an important balance to strike between securing our borders while facilitating the high volume of legitimate trade and travel that crosses our borders every day, and we strive to achieve that balance and show the world that the United States is a welcoming nation."