“I’m Going to Destroy America and Dig up Marilyn Monroe”: British Tourists Leigh Van Bryan & Emily Bunting Arrested in L.A. on Terror Charges, Interrogated and Deported over Twitter Joke
A pair of hapless British tourists who posted jesting Tweets, one of them quoting a popular American animated sitcom, were arrested on terror charges, imprisoned with Mexican drug traffickers, interrogated for hours and finally deported from the United States.
According to Mail Online, 26-year-old Leigh Van Bryan, a bar manager from Coventry, and 24-year-old Emily Bunting of Birmingham were arriving in Los Angeles for an American holiday when they were arrested by Department of Homeland Security authorities at Los Angeles International Airport. The pair were flagged as potential terrorists over a pair of tweets Van Bryan posted about his upcoming trip.
“Free this week, for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America,” he’d tweeted, meaning that he was going to get completely wasted while in the U.S.
Another of his tweets read: “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA pissing people off on Hollywood Blvd. and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!”
The Marilyn Monroe reference is from the popular animated TV sitcom “Family Guy.”
But U.S. authorities were not amused. Federal agents searched Van Bryan’s luggage for spades and shovels, postulating that Bunting would act as his lookout while he tried to dig up Monroe, who died nearly half a century ago.
The two tourists were interrogated for five hours at LAX before being handcuffed and transported to a detention facility for undocumented immigrants, where they were held overnight before being deported from the United States.
“The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh’s tweet,” Bunting told Mail Online. “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,” she added. “I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh’s lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe. I couldn’t believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show.”
“It got even more ridiculous because the officials searched our suitcases and said they were looking for spades and shovels. They did a full body search on me too. We just wanted to have a good time on holiday. That was all Leigh meant in his tweet. He would not hurt anyone.”
“It’s just so ridiculous it’s almost funny but at the time it was really scary,” Van Bryan told Mail Online. “The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist. I kept saying to them they had got the wrong meaning from my tweet but they just told me ‘you’ve really fucked up with that tweet boy.'”
“When I was in the van I was handcuffed and put in a cage,” he added. “I had a panic attack but the worse was yet to come. When we arrived at the prison I was shoved in a cell on my own but after an hour two huge Mexican men covered in tattoos came in and started asking me who I was. They told me they’d been arrested for taking cocaine over the border. When the food arrived on the tray they took it all and just left me with a carton of apple juice.”
The charge sheet against Bunting 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.”
Van Bryan’s charge sheet, which included a police mug shot and fingerprint, 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 pair were informed that they would have to apply for visas from the U.S. Embassy in London before they could travel to the United States again.
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