BANGKOK – Two foreign journalists headed to Iraq were arrested at an airport here after bullet-proof jackets and gas masks were recovered from their check-in baggage, police said on Tuesday.
Anthony Cheng from the UK and Florian Witulski from Germany were set to fly to the Iraqi city of Mosul to cover the ongoing war when they were apprehended at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Monday night, Efe news reported.
Authorities released Witulski on Tuesday morning, but Cheng – believed to be the owner of the items – remains in custody.
Cheng will be booked for illegal possession of war equipment without the requisite permits, according to a senior police official.
The journalist, who can file for bail, faces up to five years imprisonment under a 1987 law which bans unlicensed possession of military equipment.
In August 2015, a Hong Kong photographer was arrested at the airport for the same reason, after covering a bomb attack in Bangkok.
Following three months of litigation, Thai authorities withdrew the charges and allowed him to return to Hong Kong.
Journalism associations have called on Thai authorities to review the existing law in order to allow reporters to buy, import and use suitable protective gear.
Several reporters lost their lives and others were injured by bullets while reporting on the anti-government protests in the Thai capital in 2010.