BANGKOK – Thai police arrested a British journalist at a Bangkok airport on Tuesday and charged him with arms possession for attempting to carry protective gear onto a flight to war-torn Iraq.
Anthony Cheng, 46, was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport for possessing a gas mask and a bullet-proof vest without a license, said police Lt. Col. Somchai Maneerat, adding that the items are classified as military weapons under Thai law.
Under Thai law, a license is needed to possess body armor. Violating the law carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
Cheng, who works for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, was on his way to Mosul, where Iraqi forces are fighting to retake the city from the Islamic State group.
He was released on bail of 100,000 baht ($3,000), Somchai said.
In a similar case in August 2015, Hong Kong photojournalist Hok Chun Anthony Kwan was detained at Suvarnabhumi Airport for possessing a bulletproof vest and helmet.
The Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand said in a statement Tuesday that it was "deeply unhappy" with the decision to charge Cheng.
"The FCCT urges the Thai authorities to drop the charges against Tony Cheng, and to find a way going forward whereby journalists are able to carry the equipment they need to protect themselves," the statement said.