Irishman and friend barred from entering US over tweets

31 Jan 2012

Two friends claim they have been refused entry to the US for security reasons and sent home after one of them tweeted he was going “to destroy America.”

Leigh Van Bryan (26), an Irish national living in Coventry, England, only meant he was going to have a good time, but that didn’t go down well with the US Department of Homeland Security, which picked up Bryan’s Twitter messages before his holiday in Los Angeles.

In another tweet, Bryan referred to animated comedy show Family Guy, saying he would be in LA, annoying people “and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up”.

Bryan told the Sun newspaper he and his friend Emily Bunting (24), from Birmingham, England, were apprehended on arrival at Los Angeles International Airport and questioned for five hours about his tweets. They reportedly spent 12 hours in separate holding cells before the two were put on a plane back to the UK via Paris. They landed at Birmingham Airport last Wednesday.

In a statement published by The New York Times, the US Department of Homeland Security said it had acted on information provided by the LAX Port Authority Infoline, a suspicious activity tip line.

The department also said it tried to maintain a balance between “securing our borders while facilitating the high volume of legitimate trade and travel that crosses our borders every day”.

Bryan and Bunting are still allowed to visit the US, but they first must apply for visas from the US embassy in London.