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Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 08:25

CE appeals to Thai government over detention of HK journalist

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong

CE appeals to Thai government over detention of HK journalist
Hong Kong photojournalist Hok Chun Anthony Kwan speaks on the phone after leaving Samut Prakan provincial court after he was released on bail, Aug 24, 2015, following his arrest Sunday at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, for carrying body armor and a helmet onto a flight bound for Hong Kong. (AP Photo / Karly Domb Sadof)

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Tuesday expressed concerns over a Hong Kong photo journalist’s arrest in Thailand for carrying a bulletproof vest and a helmet while covering the aftermath of the blast in the heart of its capital city.

Speaking before Tuesday’s Executive Council meeting, Leung appealed to the Thai government to handle the case with respect to reason as well as the law.

Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, a photographer for the Hong Kong-based Initium Media, was apprehended by Thai police after a ballistic vest and a helmet were found in his carry-on luggage at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Sunday.

The news outlet has sent a staff member to assist Kwan, who has been released on bail of 100,000 Thai baht ($2,820), or HK$21,800, after appearing in military court on Monday.

Lam Yik-fei, head of the photo division of Initium Media, told China Daily that Kwan was exhausted and anxious to come back to Hong Kong.

Kwan was barred from leaving Thailand. He is awaiting his second hearing in court in two weeks.

“We have to meet with the lawyer later today (Tuesday) to make further plans,” Lam said. He added that Kwan was worried about the case.

Journalists from all over the world flocked to Thailand last week to report on the bombing at Erawan Shrine, which claimed more than 20 lives including tourists.

According to the country’s law, anyone possessing illegal weapons without license will incur imprisonment of up to five years. Under Thailand’s Arms Control Act, gas masks, bulletproof vests and helmets are all classified as weapons that need a license.

Over the years, appeals to the Thai authorities to allow journalists to carry personal protection equipment widely used by reporters around the world have proved futile.

In light of the arrest, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) condemned the arrest of Kwan in a statement.

“Body armor and helmets used by journalists are not offensive weapons and should not be treated as such,” the statement said. The reporter group said two reporters were shot to death when working in Bangkok in 2010, thus such protection was necessary.

A source at Initium Media said that Thai policemen, who cannot speak English, took Kwan into custody right away. The photo journalist was not asked to make a deposition until the next day, when the FCCT hired a lawyer and a translator to assist.

The source added that the stranded reporter was asked to make another deposition on Tuesday after he appeared in court on Monday.

Leung said the government has expressed its concerns over the case to the Chinese embassy in Thailand and already requested assistance.

Leung reminded Hong Kong people to check the local laws before they commenced trips outside the city.

stushadow@chinadailyhk.com

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