An Irish citizen and his friend have been deported and banned from the United States after some innocent joking tweets were misunderstood by special anti-terror specialist agents.
Leigh Van Bryan, a 26-year-old Irishman, who works as a barman in Coventry, Britain innocently tweeted his friend Emily Bunting before their vacation to Los Angeles. Special agents who were monitoring Twitter saw Van Bryan’s messages weeks before his trip.
The Sun reports that his tweets joked about “digging up Marilyn Monroe” and destroying America. One of his texts read “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America”.
In another tweet Van Bryan quoted an episode of the US comedy series “Family Guy” saying “3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p*ssing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!”
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Van Bryan and Bunting were picked up at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and held by armed guards, on 22nd January. They were handcuffed and questioned for five hours before being put in a van with illegal immigrants and locked up overnight. They were held in separate holding cells for 12 hours before they were deported.
Van Bryan told the Sun he was held in a guarded cell with Mexican drug dealers.
The pair explained to the officers at LAX that the term “destroy” in Britain means partying. However the pair were kept on suspicion of committing crimes.
After the fact Van Bryan said “It's almost funny now but at the time it was really scary…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'.”
The agents told their suspects they would check their lugguage for spades and said they suspected that Bunting was to act as a “lookout” while Leigh raided Marilyn Monroe’s tomb.
Bunting said “Officials told us we were not allowed into the country because of Leigh's tweets.
“We just wanted to have a good time on holiday. That was all Leigh meant in his tweets.”
Forbes reported that the Department of Homeland Security charging sheet stated “Mr. Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter [sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe…Also on his tweeter [sic] account, Mr Bryan tweeted that he was coming to destroy America.”
The DHS have been monitoring social media for the past three years. It seems that they better learn to take the context of messages into consideration.