Two British tourists were barred from entering America after joking on Twitter that they were going to ‘destroy America’ and ‘dig up Marilyn Monroe’.
Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.
The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read: ‘Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?’
Despite telling officials the term ‘destroy’ was British slang for ‘party’, they were held on suspicion of planning to ‘commit crimes’ and had their passports confiscated.Leigh was also quizzed about another tweet which quoted hit US comedy Family Guy which read: ‘3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!
Federal agents even searched his suitcase looking for spades and shovels, claiming Emily was planning to act as Leigh’s ‘look out’ while he raided Marilyn’s tomb.
Bar manager Leigh, from Coventry, and Emily, 24, from Birmingham, were then quizzed for five hours at LAX before they were handcuffed and put into a van with illegal immigrants and locked up overnight.
They spent 12 hours in separate holding cells before being driven back to the airport where they were put on a plane home via Paris.
Leigh, an Irish national, and Emily arrived at Birmingham Airport last Wednesday afternoon.
Emily said: ‘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.
‘They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.
‘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.’
Leigh posted the tweet on January 16 before the pair flew to LA last Monday.
Leigh said: ‘It’s just so ridiculous it’s almost funny but at the time it was really scary. 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 f***** up with that tweet boy”.
‘When I was in the van I was handcuffed and put in a cage. 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.’
After 12 hours in custody they returned to the airport where they were handed documents which stated they had been refused entry to the US.
Emily’s charge sheet stated: ‘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.’
Leigh’s charge sheet, alongside a police mug shot and finger print, added: ‘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.’
Leigh and Emily have now been told they must apply for visas from the US Embassy in London before flying to the US again.