'Storm Area 51' meme lands Dutch YouTuber in jail

The meme of the summer turned into a nightmare for a pair of friends looking to capture some cool but illegal footage.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read

Dutch YouTuber Ties Granzier (left) and Govert Sweep were arrested for trespassing ahead of the Storm Area 51 events. 

Nye County Sheriff's Office screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

What started as a social media hoax calling for a "Naruto run" on the infamous Area 51 to "see them aliens" is beginning to have some serious real-world consequences. 

A popular Dutch YouTuber, Ties Granzier, and his friend Govert Sweep were to spend at least three days in jail after the pair pled guilty to trespassing at the Nevada National Security Site, which is near but separate from Area 51. 

Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said in a video news release Monday that the pair had been sentenced to a year, but were set to be released on Thursday after just three days if they are able to pay fines and fees of $2,280 (£1,818, AUD 3,350) each. The duo also must agree to stay away from all nearby national security sites for the next year and surrender all the computer and video equipment they were using to film near the site. 

"It was important to us that these men serve jail time and pay a substantial penalty," Arabia said. "We take this crime seriously and people need to understand that we will not put up with this kind of nonsense."

Watch this: Secrets of Area 51: The alien controversy

Granzier and Sweep also made a statement on camera while in custody. "We did not want to cause any trouble," Granzier said. "It has all gone a little bit out of hand." 

The whole "Storm Area 51" meme began in June with a Facebook event posted as a joke. It quickly went viral, leading millions to click their intention to join the plan to overwhelm the top secret national security site. 

In the months that followed, the US military strongly discouraged any storming of its secure facilities and the tongue-in-cheek call to arms has since morphed into competing events.

Leading UFO believers will gather Friday and Saturday at "Storm Area 51 Basecamp," a two-day festival at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nevada, featuring a performance by famed DJ Paul Oakenfold. 

Meanwhile, the nearby desert town of Rachel will host its own Alienstock festival. Matty Roberts, creator of the original post and meme, pulled out of the event citing concerns over safety and is instead holding his own "Alien Stock" event (note the subtle difference) as a free concert sponsored by Bud Light in downtown Las Vegas on Thursday.

None of the event itineraries include plans to actually storm any secure government facilities.