British Tourists Denied Entry After Twitter Comments

Officials at LAX detained the couple on suspicion of planning to commit crimes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two British tourists were detained and refused entry into the U.S. last Monday  by officials at Los Angeles International Airport after lightheartedly sharing on Twitter their intent to “destroy America.”

    Leigh Van Bryan, 26, said he used the term “destroy” as slang for partying in a tweet that read, “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America.”

    Bryan and his friend Emily Banting, 24, told The Daily Mail they were questioned at LAX for five hours on suspicion of planning to "commit crimes." The two said they were subsequently kept in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours under the watch of armed guards.

    Banting was amused when federal agents questioned another tweet posted by Bryan that referenced an episode of the television comedy “Family Guy.”

    “3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!” read the post.

    Banting said officials asked if she intended to be Bryan’s lookout as he dug up Monroe’s grave. She added that their suitcases were searched for spades and shovels.

    U.S. Customs and Border Patrol released a statement that Bryan and Banting were taken for a secondary interview based on information obtained from the LAX Port Authority Infoline.

    “Information gathered during this interview revealed that both individuals were inadmissible to the United States and were returned to their country of residence,” according to CBP.

    They added that they strive to treat “all travelers with respect and in a professional manner.”

    Bryan and Banting said that after the ordeal, they were given documents stating they were refused entry into the U.S.,  were taken back to the airport and placed on a plane home.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security monitors popular social networking websites, blogs and forums through its Social Networking/Media Capability program.