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Anthony Kwan a Hong Kong reporter has been charged with possession of body armor by the Samui Prakarn Provincial Court. He was caught with the body armor in his luggage at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Sunday.
The court have given the man temporary release on bail according to his lawyer from the Human Rights commission, however his passport has been seized preventing him from leaving the country. Under the terms of his bail he must report to the court every 12 days. The first hearing of his case is set for the 7th of September.
Kwan was in Bangkok covering the bombing of the Erawan Shrine for his media firm, he said he was not aware of the Military Equipment Control Act of 1987, where possessing protective body armor is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in jail. He told the court his company sent him the armor to wear for his own protection during his report.
In a statement yesterday the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand said it was “dismayed” by the news.
“Body armor and helmets used by journalists are not offensive weapons and should not be treated as such. … the use of body armor and helmets is routine by journalists around the world, and is clearly to enable them to do their jobs in dangerous situations.”
The correspondents club unsuccessfully called for the law’s repeal at the time and renewed that call yesterday.
“We urge the authorities not to press ahead with the criminal case against Mr Kwan, and to work with the media community in Thailand to decriminalise the legitimate use of body armor and other relevant and purely protective items,” its statement read.