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US cops' humour fail sees UK pair sent home for Twitter jokes

31 Jan 2012

Policeman in front of no entry sign representing high security

Anyone who has been to the US will know that passport control is serious. Sure the UK takes it seriously too, but there's something about the officialdom of the US that makes you instinctively add "sir" to every question you're asked as you try to enter the Land of the Free.

So perhaps it is not surprising a message posted by an Irish citizen on Twitter proclaiming his desire to "destroy America" was interpreted rather literally as a terrorist threat against the good old US of A, rather than as a colloquial term for having a good time. It resulted in him and a friend being ejected from the country.

According to The Sun, Coventry resident Leigh Van Bryan's messages were written several weeks before he left for Los Angeles with a friend, Emily Bunting, but on arrival he was subjected to almost five hours of interrogation, held overnight and then sent back. Imagine the jetlag, urgh.

That wasn't the only message which got the pair in trouble, with one that noted Bryan's desire to dig up the corpse of Marilyn Monroe - in a reference to joke in so-called comedy show Family Guy - also under scrutiny.

Homeland Security reported, with Orwellian tones, that "Mr Bryan confirmed that he had posted on his Tweeter [Tweeter? - Ed] web site account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe".

Because whatever someone writes is always The Truth and can never be interpreted in any other way.

The po-faced nature of this message would be laughable if it wasn't actually so serious an issue and related to what were clearly a couple of light-hearted, highly public messages by a 26-year-old bar manager.

However, the situation is clear: before you write anything on Twitter ask yourself, would I want an overzealous law enforcement official to read this? If the answer's no, best not tweet. Sneak had better quit Twitter then.

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