A 16-year-old Icelandic prankster, Vífill Atlason, called the Presidential Office of the White House the first weekend in December and requested a telephone meeting with George W. Bush as Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland.
After having answered a number of questions about Grímsson’s persona with the aid of Wikipedia, and being sent from operator to operator, Atlason was given contact with Bush’s private secretary and granted a telephone meeting with the president at 7 pm on December 3, Fréttabladid reports.
But at the last minute, White House officials noticed there was something fishy about the caller, and Atlason was paid a visit by the police in Akranes, where he lives, instead. US authorities were keen to find out how an Icelandic teenager could have known the secret telephone number (1-800-WHITEHOUSE) of the White House Presidential Office.
Atlason claims not to remember where he got his hands on the telephone number. The teenage prankster does not expect to get into any legal trouble for his “light telephone prank.”
“I wasn’t rude and was addressed as ‘Mr. President’ by the White House staff over and over again. It was totally worth all the fuss,” Atlason said. He told Morgunbladid he did not want to get anyone upset, he just wanted to have a chat with Bush and invite him to Iceland.
Two Icelandic TV channels, RÚV and Channel 2, invited Atlason to an interview Thursday last week to ask him about his prank. He agreed to go to both interviews, which were at the same time, and it wasn’t until later that people realized that two different boys had been interviewed as Atlason.
Apparently, the true prankster had showed up at RÚV, but had sent one of his friends to impersonate him on Channel 2.
Atlason’s prank has also caught the attention of American media stations like NBC and ABC, the latter of which interviewed the teenager and his mother, Fréttabladid reports.
A White House representative told ABC that it is not particularly difficult to find the number Atlason had called; it is an unclassified number on the White House switchboard.