Two British tourists, 26-year-old Leigh Van Bryan and 24-year-old Emily Bunting, were detained and handcuffed last Monday by police during their trip to Los Angeles when the Department of Homeland Security flagged flippant posts on Twitter as potential threats. Bunting said Homeland Security was treating me like some kind of terrorist despite their testimony during questioning at LAX.
Van Bryan posted a comment on Jan. 16 about his upcoming trip with Bunting to Hollywood, which prompted the pair's detainment after they proceeded through passport control.
Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America, the incriminating post from Van Bryan read.
According to The Daily Mail, Van Bryan and Bunting were handcuffed and placed in a jail cell overnight with Mexican drug dealers upon their arrival in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) held on suspicion of planning to commit crimes.
After being detained, Van Bryan told police his tweet was innocent and not a potential threat, as the term destroy is British slang for party.
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.
Van Bryan was also flagged for another post, a quote which he extracted from an episode of Family Guy.
3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!
I couldn't believe it because it was a quote from the comedy Family Guy which is an American show, Bunting said. I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh's lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe.
The pair was transported by van to the prison after five hours of interrogation at the airport where they remained for 12 hours, rubbing elbows with Mexican drug dealers.
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, Bunting explained. 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 tourists also reportedly had their passports confiscated and their suitcases searched for tools used for digging, as Bunting was assumed to be Van Bryan's accomplice, The Daily Mail reported.
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, Bunting said.
Van Bryan and Bunting were handed documents refusing their entry into the U.S. which said they had intentions of coming to the United States to commit crimes.
It's just so ridiculous it's almost funny but at the time it was really scary, Bunting said. The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist.
Leigh Van Bryan and Emily Bunting must apply for visas at the U.S. Embassy in London before returning to the country again.