HONG KONG — A Hong Kong court on Monday acquitted a Washington state senator of possessing a firearm without a license after he brought a weapon into Chinese territory, which he called an “honest mistake.” .
Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, was granted parole on the condition that he commit no more gun offenses in Hong Kong for the next two years, according to the South China Morning Post. Prosecutors noted that Wilson told authorities about the gun himself and had no criminal record in Hong Kong, the newspaper said.
“The Chinese authorities behaved professionally and I commend them for their diligence,” Wilson said in a statement. “After all, the mistake was entirely mine. I am relieved that we were able to resolve this issue effectively and would like to apologize for the concern I have caused.
Wilson, who was traveling to Southeast Asia for a five-week vacation with his wife, was arrested at Hong Kong International Airport on October 21 after telling customs he discovered an unloaded revolver in his luggage handbag during his flight from Hong Kong. San Francisco.
The gun passed through security undetected at Portland International Airport, Oregon, and Wilson did not have to go through security again before his connecting flight to San Francisco, the report said. communicated.
The Transportation Security Administration, which handles all passenger screening at the Portland airport, said last week that it “takes this situation very seriously and is currently investigating the circumstances.”
Wilson said he packed quickly and didn’t check the contents of his bag and his “heart sank” when he walked in mid-flight and realized his mistake.
“I immediately understood what had happened and that my only option was to report to the appropriate authorities, cooperate fully and respect the laws of the country where my plane was about to land,” he said. -he declares.
Wilson had to surrender his passport pending resolution of the case and was detained for three days before being released on bail on October 23, the release said. The firearm was confiscated, the Post reported.
In an earlier statement, Wilson said the gun was registered in Washington state but not in Hong Kong, where gun laws are much stricter. Those found guilty of carrying a firearm without a license face fines of up to 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($12,800) and up to 14 years in prison.
Wilson said he looked forward to resuming his travels and that “we can all learn from what happened here.”
“First of all, of course, you should always check your carry-on bags before going through airport security,” he said. “But more importantly, when you make a mistake like this, the right thing to do is show respect and accept responsibility.”