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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Twitter jokes ruin U.S. vacation for two British tourists

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:25 PM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Post-9/11 USA is highly cautious of any perceived threat
Watch what you tweet.
That's the message tourists are getting from a British travel association, after the news that a 26-year-old bar manager and his travel companion were detained and deported from Los Angeles International Airport last week after tweeting about coming to the U.S. to "destroy America" and "diggin' Marilyn Monroe up."
UK-based Abta told the BBC that "posting statements in a public forum which could be construed as threatening - in this case saying they are going to 'destroy' somewhere - will not be viewed sympathetically by U.S. authorities. In the past we have seen holidaymakers stopped at airport security for 'joking' that they have a bomb in their bag, thoroughly questioned and ending up missing their flights, demonstrating that airport security staff do not have a sense of humour when it comes to potential risk."

Leigh Van Bryan wrote a message to a friend on Twitter earlier this month, saying "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America," and "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p*ssing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!"
Bryan told Britain's The Sun and the Daily Mail that he tried in vain to convince DHS and Customs and Border Patrol agents he was no terrorist. He said he told agents "destroy" was British slang for getting drunk, and "diggin' Marilyn Monroe up" was a quote from the U.S. comedy show Family Guy.
But after passing through passport control at LAX last Monday, Bryan said he and companion Emily Bunting, 24, were detained by armed guards, questioned for five hours, handcuffed and locked up overnight with illegal immigrants and then put on a plane back to Britain.
"Based on information provided by the LAX Port Authority Infoline – a suspicious activity tipline – CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) conducted a secondary interview of two subjects presenting for entry into the United States," the department said in a statement. "Information gathered during this interview revealed that both individuals were inadmissible to the United States and were returned to their country of residence."
That statement continued:
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. CBP denies entry to thousands of individuals each year on grounds of inadmissibility, some of which include: improper travel documents, prohibited activities or intent, traveling under the Visa Waiver Program without qualifying for participation in that program, smuggling of contraband or prohibited goods, criminal activity or history, immigration violations such as prior overstay, attempting to gain entry with fraudulent documents or posing as an imposter, and national security concerns, among others.
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.
Last week's foiled holiday isn't the first time that a tweet has landed a British traveler in trouble. In January 2010, accountant Paul Chambers tweeted he would blow snow-choked Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster "sky high!" if it was not reopened in time for him to see his girlfriend. He was convicted of "menace," and fined nearly $4,000.

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