Withdraw Prosecution of Photojournalist for Carrying a Protective Vest and Helmet

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Withdraw Prosecution of Photojournalist for Carrying a Protective Vest and Helmet

This petition had 2,996 supporters

FCC Hong Kong started this petition to The Thai Government

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, urges the Thai authorities to drop a weapons charge against a Hong Kong photojournalist who was transporting protective body armor and a helmet needed in the course of his work. 

We are dismayed by the apparent decision to go ahead with the prosecution of Anthony Kwan Hok-Chun, who was assigned by Initium Media Technology to cover the aftermath of the Aug. 17 Erawan shrine bombing, in which two Hong Kong residents were killed and six more injured. He was arrested on 23 August while attempting to board a return flight to Hong Kong with protective gear in his carry-on luggage. 

Protective vests and helmets of the type in Mr. Kwan’s possession are standard gear for reporters working in dangerous areas around the world. But the items Mr. Kwan was carrying when attempting to leave the country are considered “weapons” under Thai law. He was initially charged under the 1967 Arms Control Act and was to be tried in a military court. The offense carries a prison sentence of up to five years. He was then granted bail of 100,000 Thai baht (c. HK$21,000) but barred from leaving the country.

On 12 October, Mr. Kwan appeared before the court in Bangkok. He is pleading not guilty on the charge of carrying weapons and remains on bail, and has had his travel documents returned.

We once again strongly urge Thai authorities to see sense and drop the criminal case against Mr. Kwan. We also strongly encourage them to work with the news media in Thailand to decriminalise the legitimate use of body armour and related protective items by journalists and others who need to attend potentially dangerous scenes.

 

Petition Closed

This petition had 2,996 supporters