LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A pair of U.K. tourists were arrested after landing in Los Angeles on terror charges after joking on Twitter they were going to ‘destroy America’ and ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe.’
Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was detained last Monday after landing in Los Angeles with his friend, 24-year-old Emily Bunting, according to the British Daily Mail.
Bryan was flagged as a potential threat after tweeting this message about his upcoming trip to Hollywood “@MelissaxWalton free this week for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America? x”
Bryan and Bunting told officials the term “destroy” was British slang for “party.” Despite the explanation, they were held on suspicion of planning to commit crimes and their passports were confiscated, the Daily Mail reported.
Bryan was also questioned about another tweet quoting the animated show, “Family Guy:” “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and digging Marilyn Monroe up!”
Bryan’s luggage was searched for spades and shovels as a result.
The pair told the Daily Mail they were questioned for five hours, before they were taken to separate holding cells for another 12 hours. They were then put on a plane home via Paris.
“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 told the Daily Mail. “They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.”
We just wanted to have a good time on holiday. That was all Leigh meant in his tweet. He would not hurt anyone.”
The Daily Mail says Bryan and Bunting must apply for visas from the U.S. Embassy in London before flying to the U.S. again.
Bryan’s Twitter account has been locked, barring any casual users from seeing his tweets. The account directs all press to contact a spokesman at South West News Service.
“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,” Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jenny Burke 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.”
Inadmissability, she said, could include improper travel documents, prohibited activities or intent, smuggling of contraband or prohibited goods or criminal activity or history.