A photojournalist from Hong Kong may face jail time after he was held at a Thai airport for carrying body armor and a helmet, which he’d brought to report on the bomb blast that went off at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine last week.
Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, an employee for the Hong Kong-based Initium media group, was arrested at the Suvarnabhumi Airport when boarding a flight back home on Sunday as he was carrying the items in his luggage, the Associated Press reports.
While journalists commonly wear protective armor on location after a dangerous event, Thai law prohibits people from possessing military equipment without a license.
The law is criticized and often ignored by foreign media, whose requests to carry such gear have long gone unanswered by Thai authorities.
Kwan is out on bail but is still being investigated by police. He could face a charge of carrying an illegal weapon and if found guilty, may face up to five years in jail.
“Body armor and helmets used by journalists are not offensive weapons and should not be treated as such,” the The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand said in a statement, adding that had reached out to authorities in the past “so that journalists can purchase, import and carry adequate protective equipment”.
The bomb explosion at the popular tourist area in Ratchaprasong on August 17 killed 20 people, including three tourists from mainland China and two from Hong Kong.
The national police chief recently said that the search for the bombing suspect has been hampered by broken CCTV cameras in the area, as “15 of the 20 cameras from Ratchaprasong intersection to Silom were out of order” and the five that were working do not give a “complete picture of the incident”.