British Tourist Arrest Over Tweets Is Insane Overreaction

british passportAnd you thought you had a miserable experience the last time you flew! Ha! Two British tourists had what could really only be described as a hell of a time trying to get into the U.S. last week, when they were detained and eventually sent back to England for, get this ... Twitter jokes! Yes, I only wish I was kidding.

Homeland Security flagged 26-year-old Leigh Van Bryan for a pre-trip tweet that read, "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America," and another that is apparently a direct quote from Family Guy that read, "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA pissing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!" As a result, when he and 24-year-old travel companion Emily Bunting arrived in Los Angeles, they were apprehended, handcuffed, and questioned for FIVE HOURS at LAX. And that was just the beginning.

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Bryan and Bunting tried to explain that "destroy" is slang for "party," but they were held on suspicion of planning to "commit crimes," and federal agents searched Bryan's luggage for "spades and shovels" while conducting a full body search on Bunting. They were then taken in a van to jail and spent 12 hours under armed guard in prison cells shared by Mexican drug dealers ... all before being put back on a plane bound for Europe. What the hell!??!

Okay, sure, actual criminals may very be the kinds of total morons who would use social media to broadcast their terrible intentions, so it's not like authorities should completely dismiss tweets or Facebook statuses, but to base an entire case around them?? Especially when the one that seemed to worry them the most -- about Marilyn Monroe -- is a direct quote from an American TV show?! It's completely ludicrous.

The tourists even saw a bit of humor in the whole thing in retrospect. Bryan told The Daily Mail ...

It's just so ridiculous it's almost funny but at the time it was really scary. The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some kind of terrorist.

Ugh, this is just so embarrassing for the U.S.! Obviously, there's a lot of power behind a tweet or Facebook status, but authorities should not be taking social media blurbs so seriously or assuming they're meant to be taken at complete face value. People use social media to joke around -- a LOT.

Seems to me this craziness could be preempted if authorities had to have a solid case to go after someone like Bryan and Bunting. In the future, if Homeland Security suspects someone's really up to no good, they should have proof other than one two possibly questionable tweets!

How insane is this story to you? Do you think these tourists deserved to be apprehended for what they tweeted?

 

Image via Kai Hendry/Flickr

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