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Hong Kong court drops charges against Wilson

TSA is investigating security lapse at PDX

A court in Hong Kong on Oct. 30 dismissed illegal gun possession charges against state Sen. Jeff Wilson of Longview, according to press accounts and Wilson’s office.

Wilson, 63, did not have to enter a plea after the judge in the West Kowloon Magistrates Court issued what is called a blind-over order. A blind-over order is an agreement between the court and the defendant to maintain good behavior for a specified period — two years in Wilson’s case.

A blind-over order is neither a punishment nor a conviction, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

“The Chinese authorities conducted themselves in a professional manner, and I commend them for their diligence,” Wilson said in a statement. “The mistake, after all, was fully mine. I am relieved we were able to resolve this matter.”

Authorities at Hong Kong International Airport arrested Wilson on Oct. 20 after he realized he had a .38 caliber revolver in his carry-on luggage and declared the firearm. The firearm went undetected at a security checkpoint at Portland International Airport. Wilson said he did not realize the gun was in his bag until midflight between San Francisco, where he connected to an international flight, and Hong Kong.

He was charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm. Wilson was detained three days before his release on bail Oct. 23, according to a statement released by his office Sunday.

Wilson appeared before Principal Magistrate Don So. The senior prosecutor in the case, Cherry Chong, recommended the blind-over order, noting Wilson’s attitude and his clear record in Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.

Wilson said in the statement that he had packed quickly and failed to check the contents of his bag and that his “heart sank” when he reached into it midflight and realized his mistake.

“I understood immediately what had happened and that my only option was to report to the proper authorities, cooperate fully, and respect the laws of the land where my plane was about to touch down,” he said.

Wilson previously said the revolver is registered in Washington and that he has a Washington concealed weapons permit. But the revolver is not registered in Hong Kong, where gun laws are much stricter. Carrying an unlicensed firearm there can results in fines of up to $12,800 (U.S.) and 14 years in prison.

Presumably, Wilson and his wife are now clear to resume a planned five-week vacation to several nations in Southeast Asia. His spokesman said his gun was returned to him, but the conditions for that were not clear.

The matter is not completely settled. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration says it is investigating how Wilson’s gun got through the TSA checkpoint at PDX in Portland.

In addition to serving as the state senator for Southwest Washington’s 19th District, Wilson, an ally of the conservative wing of the Republican party, is a Port of Longview commissioner.

 

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