A 70-YEAR-OLD Greenock grandfather’s dream of seeing the Christmas lights of New York has turned into a nightmare — after being branded a TERRORIST.

John Stevenson and his wife Marion had always wanted to visit the Big Apple at this time of year and it was also a special treat after his birthday in August.

The Greenock couple splashed out more than £2,000 on the trip and everything was fine until they started filling out the ‘Esta’ visa form.

John, a taxi driver from Cawdor Crescent, 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 are 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, I had to start where I had finished 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 asks 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.”

John has been desperately trying to get help to rectify the situation but the clock is ticking as the couple are due to fly out on December 3.

He has been advised that he will have to email the embassy in London and arrange an appointment costing one hundred dollars.

He will then have to be interviewed by officials.

John said: “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’s the biggest nightmare I’ve ever had.

“My phone could be getting tapped — I don’t know.”

The couple booked the holiday through United Airlines, who have told them that there may be a possibility of getting a refund for accommodation and transfers but not the cost of the flights.

John said: “Marion is sick about it.

“We can’t even reschedule because I don’t know if I’ll ever get back into America.”

Marion, 71, said: “We were meant to be going away on the third of December.

“It’s terrible, it’s shocking and so stupid.

“I don’t know why that question is on the form in the first place.”