Grandad Banned From USA After Accidentally Claiming To Be A Terrorist
Like so many of us, John Stevenson had long dreamed about spending Christmastime in New York. However, his plans were scuppered after he ended up accidentally claiming to be a terrorist.
John and his wife Marion from Greenock, Inverclyde, planned to fly to America on December 3, 2018, just as the festive season was getting into full swing. Flights and accommodation set them back a cool £2,000, and the couple were looking forward to exploring the city together.
Unfortunately, a serious spanner was thrown in the works after John accidentally ticked the wrong box on the ‘Esta’ visa form, throwing their dream trip into jeopardy.
Of all boxes to tick, this was the last one any prospective traveller would want to mess up and saw poor John inadvertently declare himself to be a terrorist.
John, who had only ever seen the inside of a courtroom during jury duty, tried in vain to sort the situation out, but to no avail:
I even called border control in the US and gave them my passport details – they looked up my Esta number and said ‘you’re a terrorist’.
I told them that I was 70 years old and I don’t even recognise what that means. It the biggest nightmare I’ve ever had. My phone could be getting tapped – I don’t know.
The couple were informed they would have to email the London embassy in London to arrange a $100 appointment, where John would undergo questioning by officials.
At the time, United Airlines told the couple they might be able to get a refund for their accommodation and transfers, but, sadly, this would not be the case for the cost of the flights.
Speaking at the time, John said:
My wife and I have been to New York and America before but we always wanted to see the lights. You see it in all the films and we thought this is maybe the last time we will be able to go as we not getting any younger.
We were filling out the visa form and it kept timing out before we could tick all the boxes, then it crashed and when it came back up, you start where you finish off.
My wife’s form came back and it was fine but I was told the visa had been refused because I was a terrorist. One of the questions ask if you are a terrorist and it must have jumped from No to Yes without me knowing.
I’m devastated. I’ve never been in trouble in my life. The only time I’ve been in court was for jury service and now I’ve been treated like a criminal.
Marion is sick about it. We can’t even reschedule because I don’t know if I’ll ever get back into America.
Hopefully, the pair will one day be allowed to reschedule their festive city break. In the meantime, let’s all just keep double-checking forms before we send them off…
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