Tourists denied entry to US over Twitter jokes

A photo of Leigh Van Bryan, centre, posted on his Twitter account.
A photo of Leigh Van Bryan, centre, posted on his Twitter account. 

Two tourists claim they were denied entry to the US after joking on Twitter that they were going to "destroy America" and "dig up Marilyn Monroe".

Irishman Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and England's Emily Bunting, 24, were reportedly held for 12 hours at Los Angeles' LAX airport after being deemed potential threats by the Department of Homeland Security.

Van Bryan had posted to the social networking site a comment that said "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?", according to The Daily Mail.

"The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh's tweet," Bunting told the British newspaper.

"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."

Van Bryan said another tweet about digging up the body of Marilyn Monroe was a quote from the animated sitcom Family Guy.

After being released from custody, the pair were put on a plane back to the UK.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement, published by the New York Times, that said it had acted on information provided by the LAX Port Authority Infoline – a suspicious activity tip line – and conducted a "secondary interview" with the pair that revealed they were "inadmissible to the United States".

The statement said the department tried to strike a balance between protecting the country's borders and facilitating the high volume of legitimate travellers entering.

"We strive to achieve that balance and show the world that the United States is a welcoming nation," the statement said.

Van Bryan has since made his Twitter account private.

theage.com.au

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