An apparent language barrier between U.S. English and U.K. English landed friends from across the pond in separate cells for 12 hours, one with Mexican drug dealers.
Upon landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Jan. 23, Leigh Van Bryan from Coventry and friend Emily Bunting from Birmingham were detained by The Department of Homeland Security when tweets posted on Jan. 16 about a forthcoming vacation in Hollywood were interpreted as possible terror threats, reported Daily Mail.
According to Bryan, 26, his tweet: "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America," was harmless. He told the officials the term ‘destroy’ meant ‘party’ in British slang to no avail.
A similar tweet: "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!" further encouraged federal agents to search belongings asserting Bunting, 24, was Bryan’s "look out."
Though Bryan insisted it was a quote from the American hit comedy "Family Guy," the pair were handcuffed and transported with illegal immigrants to a holding cell before being shipped back home the following day.
The Mail reported after legal documentation, Bryan and Bunting were barred from entering the country.
‘'The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh's tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do," Bunting said. "They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party."
Bunting admitted the entire integration was ridiculous.
‘'I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh's lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe," she added. 'I couldn't believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show.
From a suitcase search for spades and shovels to a whole body search, Bunting said the two wanted nothing more than "to have a good time on holiday [and] that was all Leigh meant in his tweet. He would not hurt anyone."
Bryan said the worse experience of all was at the prison when he was shoved in a cell with Mexican men who’d been arrested for transporting cocaine over the border.
Once back in Los Angeles, the pair read their charge sheets. For Bunting the sheet read: "It is believed that you are travelling with Leigh-Van Bryan who possibly has the intentions of coming to the United States to commit crimes."
With a police mug shot and finger print, Bryan’s sheet read: "He had posted on his Tweeter website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe.
Also on his tweeter account Mr Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America."
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement, according to ABC News. It read, "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."
According to the Mail, in order for Bryan and Bunting to enter the US again, they must apply for visas from the US Embassy in London. Hopefully next time, they’ll hold off on the Tweets until after their vacation.