US senator nabbed for gun possession

HONG KONG — A Washington state senator was arrested in Hong Kong for carrying a gun that was not registered in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, his website and local media reported. He was released on bail Monday, Oct. 23, 2023.

Jeff Wilson, a Republican from Longview, was arrested after landing at the Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday, Oct. 21. Wilson was traveling with his wife for a five-week vacation in Southeast Asia, his website said.

His gun was not registered in the financial hub but is registered in Washington, the statement added.

According to Hong Kong’s public broadcaster RTHK, Wilson appeared in court Monday to face the charge of possession of arms without a license and was granted bail.

“It was an honest mistake, and I expect the situation to be resolved shortly,” he was quoted as saying on his website. It said Wilson’s next hearing is due Oct. 30.

After Monday’s hearing at the Shatin Magistrates’ Courts, Wilson had to surrender his travel documents, the local newspaper The Standard reported. It said the next hearing will take place at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts.

Hong Kong’s Customs and Excise Department declined to comment as legal proceedings are ongoing.

An unidentified US Consulate General spokesperson said in an email reply to The Associated Press that the US State Department has no higher priority than the safety of American citizens abroad. The spokesperson said they are aware of the case but had no further comment “due to privacy considerations.”

Under Hong Kong law, it is illegal to carry a firearm without a license. Offenders face a fine of up to 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($12,800) and can be sentenced to up to 14 years if convicted. However, typically the Magistrates’ Courts grant a maximum two-year sentence for cases they handle, the judiciary’s website said.

According to Wilson’s website, he had discovered the weapon mid-flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong and reported it to customs authorities on landing.

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