HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong court acquitted U.S. State Senator Jeff Wilson of illegally possessing a firearm in the Chinese-ruled city as long as he doesn’t commit any crime for the next two years.
Wilson, a member of the Washington State Senate representing the 19th district, was arrested in Hong Kong on Oct. 21 when he arrived at the airport with a pistol in his carry-on luggage. A Republican party member, he has served in the state senate since 2021 and is also a Port of Longview Commissioner.
Hong Kong Principal Magistrate Don So acquitted Wilson of illegal firearms possession and ordered to pay a cash fee of HKD$2,000 ($256), along with the “bind-over order” that requires Wilson to engage in good behaviour and keep the peace for two years.
So said he was inclined to believe that Wilson did not deliberately break the law.
“This is not the first time he came to Hong Kong or China, he used to be a trade delegate to Hong Kong and China. He should have known that the scrutiny in Hong Kong and China is strict,” So said.
Wilson was travelling with his wife on the first leg of a five week vacation in Southeast Asia. He did a self declaration of arms at customs and he brought a revolver by mistake, the court was told.
He did not realise his pistol was in his briefcase when he passed through airport security in Portland in the U.S. and baggage screeners failed to detect it, he said in a statement on his website.
The weapon was discovered 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, the statement said.
Carrying a firearm without a license in Hong Kong is illegal and offenders can face up to HK$100,000 ($12,800) and a maximum of 14 years in prison.