Did Twitter Jokes Get Tourists Banned from the U.S.?

We all know that if you say “bomb” when traveling anywhere you might get tackled by security. But what about certain words used via social media? U.S. Customs and Border Protection won't let any joke slide when the punchline pertains to national security – not even jokes via social media.

According to two United Kingdom tabloids – the Sun and the Daily Mail – Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and Emily Bunting, 24, were kicked out of the U.S. upon arrival because of ‘suspicious’ tweets. The two, who originally planned to spend three weeks in the U.S., were detained at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday, Jan. 30., questioned and placed in separate holding cells overnight until the two were put on a flight back to the U.K on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged Van Bryan as a potential threat when Van Bryan tweeted: ‘@MelissaxWalton Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?’

Bunting was also questioned about tweeting: ‘3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!’

Van Bryan told U.S. authorities and the Daily Mail that “destroy” was a slang term that meant “party” in the U.K. and neither of them wanted to dig up Marilyn Monroe.

The Daily Mail reports that two were questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection regarding their Twitter conversations on suspicion of planning to “commit crimes,” however, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has yet to state the suspicion was from those Twitter conversations.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a response to MSNBC:

Based on information provided by the LAX Port Authority Infoline — a suspicious activity tipline — CBP conducted a secondary interview of two subjects presenting for entry into the United States. Information gathered during this interview revealed that both individuals were inadmissible to the United States and were returned to their country of residence.

If Van Bryan and Bunting decide to make another trip to the U.S. again, they must apply for visas from the U.S. Embassy in London before flying.

Posted by Christina Miralla on Feb 02, 2012


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