A US politician has been arrested in Hong Kong after travelling to the city with a pistol in his bag – though he claims it was an “honest mistake”.
Jeff Wilson, a Republican state senator for Washington, has been charged with possession of a firearm without a license, according to the charge sheet, a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison and a fine of almost £10,000, reports CNN.
He was travelling with his wife on the first leg of a five-week holiday in Southeast Asia and forgot it was in his briefcase when he passed through airport security in Portland, according to a statement posted on his website.
Mr Wilson “discovered the weapon mid-flight between San Francisco and Hong Kong”, when he “reached into his briefcase for a piece of gum, and felt his unloaded revolver inside”. When the plane landed, He “immediately went to customs officials and called their attention to the issue”.
The statement, in which the senator confirms that the weapon is registered in Washington state and that he holds a concealed pistol licence, adds that Mr Wilson “hopes to resume his itinerary when the matter is resolved”.
The Independent has contacted Mr Wilson’s office for further information, as well as Portland International Airport and the US Transport Security Administration (TSA).
Mr Wilson appeared in court earlier this week and was granted bail, according to local media reports, with another hearing set for the end of October.
Earlier this month, two US airports – Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Maryland and Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania – broke their record for the highest number of guns caught at airport security in a year, with more than two months of 2023 to go.
“We would much rather see fewer people toting guns in their carry-on bags, but that’s not the way this is trending,” said Karen Keys-Turner, the TSA’s federal security director at the Pittsburgh airport.