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Tourists banned from U.S. over Twitter jokes?

Almost everyone realizes that saying certain words — such as "bomb" or "explosion" — in an airport can lead to awkward conversations with security inspectors at this point. By now is it not commonly understood that cracking similar jokes on publicly viewable social networks could potentially have similar results?

According to the Sun and the Daily Mail — daily tabloids published in the United Kingdom — a handful of ominous-sounding Twitter jokes got 26-year-old Leigh Van Bryan and 24-year-old Emily Bunting kicked out of the United States before they could even begin their long-awaited vacation. 

When msnbc.com contacted a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, we received confirmation that, though unidentified, a couple matching these circumstances was in fact declared "inadmissible," and "returned to their country of residence." 

Before the two British tourists flew into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) last week, Leigh posted several Twitter messages about their trip, reports the Sun. In one tweet, addressed to a fellow Twitter user who goes by "@MelissaxWalton," he wrote "free this week for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?"

In another Twitter post he announced "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p****** people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up!" He tagged a Twitter user named "@ELB_1987" in that message.

According to the Daily Mail, it was because of those tweets that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) flagged Bryan and Bunting as "a potential threat." Upon arriving at LAX, the two pals were "detained by armed guards," explains the publication:

Despite telling officials the term 'destroy' was British slang for 'party', they were held on suspicion of planning to 'commit crimes' and had their passports confiscated. ... Federal agents even searched [Bryan's] suitcase looking for spades and shovels, claiming [Bunting] was planning to act as [Bryan's] 'look out' while he raided Marilyn's tomb.

The two were quizzed for five hours before being "put in a van with illegal immigrants and locked up overnight," writes the Sun. They were then kept in separate holding cells for 12 hours before being put on a flight home.

When we reached out to the appropriate authorities for more information about this incident, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson confirmed that two individuals were in fact denied admission to the U.S. under vaguely similar circumstances:

Based on information provided by the LAX Port Authority Infoline — a suspicious activity tipline — CBP conducted a secondary interview of two subjects presenting for entry into the United States. Information gathered during this interview revealed that both individuals were inadmissible to the United States and were returned to their country of residence.

When I questioned whether tweets posted by either individual had anything to do with the incident, I was told that the details of the detainment/expulsion were protected by privacy laws. The same reply came when I inquired whether the individuals were temporarily or permanently barred from entering the U.S.

The CBP spokes person did explain that the agency "denies entry to thousands of individuals each year on grounds of inadmissibility, some of which include: improper travel documents, prohibited activities or intent, traveling under the Visa Waiver Program without qualifying for participation in that program, smuggling of contraband or prohibited goods, criminal activity or history, immigration violations such as prior overstay, attempting to gain entry with fraudulent documents or posing as an imposter, and national security concerns, among others."

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