Frustrated air passenger arrested under Terrorism Act after Twitter joke about bombing airport
19th January 2010 | mail online - A man was arrested and held in police cells for seven hours as a suspected terrorist after making a joke on Twitter about blowing his local airport sky high.
Paul Chambers, 26, tapped out the comment to amuse friends because his planned trip to Ireland was under threat due to heavy snow at Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster.
‘C**p! Robin Hood Airport is closed,’ he tweeted. ‘You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!’.
Paul Chambers made the comment on January 6 after snowfall threatened to delay his plans to travel to Ireland
But a week later, police arrived at the finance superviser’s office to arrest him under the Terrorism Act – after an apparent anonymous tip-off.
‘My first thought upon hearing it was the police was that perhaps a member of my family had been in an accident,’ he said.
‘They said I was being arrested under the Terrorism Act and produced a piece of paper. It was a print-out of my Twitter page. That was when it dawned on me.
"I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it.
'Then they asked all about my home life, and how work was going, and other personal things,' he said.
'The lead investigator kept asking, "Do you understand why this is happening?" and saying, "It is the world we live in".
'I would never have thought, in a thousand years, that any of this would have happened because of a Twitter post.
'I'm the most mild-mannered guy you could imagine.'
Robin Hood Airport Doncaster: Mr Chambers complained on Twitter when it was closed by snow
Mr Chambers, from Doncaster, faces prosecution for conspiracy to create a bomb hoax and is also banned from Robin Hood Airport (picture) for life.
He has been released on bail but detectives confiscated his iPhone, laptop and home computer.
He said: ‘My advice to anyone using social networking sites is to be very careful what you say, we are living in a sensitive world and anything risque you post could be taken in the wrong way.’
Civil liberties campaigner Tessa Mayes said: 'Making jokes about terrorism is considered a thought crime, mistakenly seen as a real act of harm or intention to commit harm.
'The police's actions seem laughable and suggest desperation in their efforts to combat terrorism, yet they have serious repercussions for all of us. In a democracy, our right to say what we please to each other should be non-negotiable, even on Twitter.'
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: 'A male was arrested on 13 January for comments made on a social networking site. He has been bailed pending further investigations.'
Mr Chambers is thought to be the first person in this country to have been arrested for comments on Twitter, although cases have been reported in the United States.
He never made it to Ireland but his popularity on the social networking site has soared – with his collection of ‘followers’ ballooning since his arrest came to light.