A journalist and former student at the University of Minnesota is set to go on trial in Thailand for possession of a bullet proof vest and helmet, tools often used by journalists to protect themselves in dangerous situations, reports the Star Tribune.
Hok Chun Anthony Kwan had just covered a fatal bombing of a temple in Bangkok when police detained him as he was about to board a plane.
Under Thai law, possession of body armor is illegal without a license.
Kwan, a Hong Kong and Canadian citizen, has pleaded not guilty and is set to appear back in court on November 16.
“Kwan believes he is not guilty. He only brought the jacket to protect himself,” said his lawyer Pawinee Chumsri.
The Asia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association along with the Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, and Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a joint statement protesting the charge against Kwan.
“Body armor and a helmet are not offensive weapons,” the group said. ” They are routine protective gear used by journalists around the world to enable them to work in dangerous situations, and Mrs. Kwan’s equipment was in line with that.
“We urge the Thai authority not to press ahead with the criminal case against Mr. Kwan and to work with the media community in Thailand to decriminalize the legitimate use of body armor and other relevant protective items.”