An Irish teenager has been charged with threatening to shoot and kill the president of Guyana during an alcohol-fueled conversation with bodyguards of the South American country's leader.

Defense lawyer Glenn Hanoman does not dispute that 17-year-old Cilian James Crossan told the bodyguards that he would shoot President Donald Ramotar.

But Hanoman says Crossan had been drinking beer and rum while attending a rodeo in the rugged Rupunui region along the border with Brazil when he made the comments as a joke. The president was not there at the time.

Crossan pleaded not guilty to the charge of threatening the president and was released on $300 bail. He likely faces no more than a fine if convicted. Crossan is in Guyana working for the Project Trust aid group.