Baby grilled by US embassy for 'terrorism'

LONDON • A three-month-old British boy was summoned to the United States embassy in London after his grandfather mistakenly filled in a form suggesting that the purpose of a visit to America was terrorism.

Harvey Kenyon-Cairns was booked to fly to Orlando, Florida, until his grandfather Mr Paul Kenyon made the error on the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (Esta) application for visa waiver.

One question asked was: "Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?"

Mr Kenyon, 62, ticked "yes" instead of "no", and his grandson's travel was refused.

"I couldn't believe that they couldn't see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone," The Guardian quoted him saying.

The embassy asked for Harvey to turn up in person, so the baby travelled from his home in Cheshire, northern England - a round trip of 10 hours, almost the duration of the planned flight to Florida.

The interview satisfied embassy officials but the visa waiver took three days to be granted.

Mr Kenyon flew out with his wife and granddaughter on the scheduled date, but Harvey and his parents, Ms Faye Kenyon-Cairns and Mr John Cairns, had to fly out a few days later. The cost of changed bookings cost Mr Kenyon an extra £3,000 (S$5,250).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Baby grilled by US embassy for 'terrorism''. Print Edition | Subscribe