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HK drops gun charge against US state senator

HONG KONG (AFP) A US state senator arrested in Hong Kong for unlicensed possession of a gun was released Monday after agreeing to a good behaviour order to settle the case, local media reported.

Republican Jeff Wilson from Washington state was arrested on October 21 for having an unloaded pistol in his carry-on luggage during a flight to the Chinese city, which he later said was an “honest mistake”.

At a Monday hearing, prosecutors agreed to settle the case against Wilson by imposing a bind-over order, which is used in some common law jurisdictions to cover minor offences.

Jeff Wilson covers himself as he arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates Courts in Hong Kong, Monday, Oct 30, 2023. PHOTO: AP

Wilson was not required to enter a plea, though breaching the court order would result in a HKD2,000 (USD255) fine, said principal magistrate Don So.

Last week, Wilson’s office issued a statement saying he “(expected) the situation to be resolved shortly”.

The state legislator said he did not realise his pistol was in his briefcase when he passed through US airport security and only discovered the unloaded weapon mid-flight.

Wilson said he reported the issue to customs officials after the plane landed in Hong Kong.

He was granted bail shortly after his arrest.

Possession of arms or ammunition without a licence in Hong Kong carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail and a HKD100,000 (USD12,800) fine.