A Hong Kong photojournalist charged with carrying a bulletproof vest and a helmet in Bangkok has been granted bail on Monday.

Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, a photographer at Initium Media Technology, was covering the aftermath of the bombing at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok, which took the lives of two Hongkongers last week.

Kwan was detained on Sunday as he was about to board to a flight back to Hong Kong at the Suvarnabhumi airport. Kwan was carrying a body armour and a helmet in his hand luggage.

The bombing in Bangkok.

Initium Media stated that it has hired a lawyer and sent staff to Bangkok to assist with the matter. The Immigration Department also said it has contacted Kwan and will learn more about the situation from the Office of The PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Thailand, local media reported.

A statement released by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) said that Kwan was “charged under the 1987 Arms Control Act, which prohibits the possession of military equipment without a licence.”

The charge of possessing an illegal weapon carries a prison sentence of up to five years and will be tried in a military court. The FCCT also condemned the treating of body armour and helmets used by journalists as offensive weapons.

“Journalists based in Bangkok have openly worn body armour during the more recent political turmoil without any action being taken against them by the Thai authorities. It is now a requirement of big media organisations that their journalists carry body armour and helmets into potentially risky environments…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 armour and other relevant and purely protective items,” said the FCCT.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.