(LOS ANGELES) — A young couple was detained at a Los Angeles airport after Homeland Security agents mistook a couple Twitter quips for threats against the U.S., the two told British media Monday.
Friends Irishman Leigh Van Bryan, 26, and British citizen Emily Bunting, 24, were reportedly interrogated and spent 12 hours locked up under armed guard after going through customs in Los Angeles International Airport last week. According to several British outlets, the couple was taken into custody by U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents because of the slang in Bryan’s tweets.
“Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America,” one of the tweets read. Bryan told The Sun that in this context “destroy” just meant party.
“The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist. I kept saying they had got the wrong meaning from my tweet but they just told me ‘You’ve really f***ed up with that tweet, boy’,” Bryan told The Sun.
Bryan had also tweeted that he planned to be “diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!” — another joke, he said.
“The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh’s tweet,” Bunting told The Daily Mail. “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.”
After spending the night in custody, Bryan and Bunting were reportedly put on a plane back home through Paris.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security declined to comment for this report, but said they will be releasing a statement concerning the incident shortly.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Matt Egan, CNN
Sara Zendehnam, CNN
Elise Labott, Kevin Liptak and Patrick Oppmann, CNN