It sounds like the start of a Locked Up Abroad episode. But a former Twin Cities photojournalist is living it.
Hong Kong native Hok-chun “Anthony” Kwan came to the U.S. in 2003, according to his personal website. While at the University of Minnesota, the engineering student landed a photographer gig with the Minnesota Daily, the student newspaper. What started as a “casual interest” became a full-fledged love of the lens. Kwan ditched his engineering track to become a working photographer.
It may have been the right career move, but on Sunday it led him to a Bangkok jail cell.
The BBC reports that Kwan was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong. Kwan was in Thailand to cover the recent Erawan Shrine bombing that killed more than 20 people and injured at least 123. In his luggage, the former Minnesota Public Radio intern packed a bulletproof vest, which could come in handy if shrapnel was flying.
It might be standard gear for journos working in dangerous places, but Thai law prohibits anyone from having “military equipment” equipment without a license. Kwan has not yet been charged, but could face a charge of carrying an illegal weapon, punishable by up to five years in jail, according to the BBC.
Kwan was on assignment with Hong Kong's Initium Media, which lawyered up on the photographer’s behalf. In a statement, Initium said that Kwan is out on bail following a Monday hearing, although he’s not allowed to leave the country.
【端傳媒聲明 Initium Media Announcement】On 23 August, the photo-journalist Initium Media assigned to cover the serial...
Kwan did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment. However, local journalists and fellow Daily alums have voiced their support on Twitter using the hashtag #FreeKwan.
Anthony Kwan is a great photojournalist and a great friend. It's killing me we can't be there for him when he needs us most #freekwan— Kevin Burbach (@kevinburbach) August 24, 2015