Hong Kong — A U.S. state senator was granted bail in Hong Kong on Monday shortly after being arrested for having a gun in his carry-on luggage during a flight to the city. Republican Jeff Wilson of Washington state said he was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and that he had a court hearing scheduled for Oct. 30.
Wilson was arrested at the Hong Kong airport on Friday night after arriving on a flight from San Francisco.
“It was an honest mistake and I hope the situation is resolved soon,” his office said in a statement Monday.
The state lawmaker said he didn’t realize his gun was in his briefcase when he went through US airport security and only discovered the unloaded weapon mid-flight.
Wilson said he reported the problem to customs officials after the plane landed.
Possessing weapons or ammunition without a license in Hong Kong carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison and a fine of HK$100,000 ($12,800).
Wilson said he was traveling with his wife on a five-week personal vacation to Southeast Asia.
A Hong Kong magistrate on Monday granted Wilson bail, confiscated his travel documents and ordered him not to leave the city, according to the Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily.
In a statement, the US Transportation Security Administration said it was “aware that a passenger on a flight departing Portland International Airport (PDX) on Saturday (10/21) passed through security and traveled with an unloaded firearm in her carry-on bag.” and that she was “currently investigating the circumstances.”
“TSA agents across the country are seizing firearms at checkpoints,” the agency said, warning that traveling with a gun could prove to be a “costly mistake for those who are stopped at checkpoints.” since it can lead to a fine of up to $15,000.
The TSA said in January that there wereof airport passengers in 2022, the highest number ever recorded.
Washington State Senate Republican Leader John Braun said he was closely monitoring the situation and hoped it would be resolved in a timely manner.
“We are learning about the incident with (Wilson) at the same time as the press and public here in the United States. As I understand it, this was an honest mistake,” Braun wrote in a statement.