As an African couple who were caught smuggling a disembowelled goat carcass in their luggage last week quickly discovered, some things just don’t fly with border forces. Now, an American senator has had the same unfortunate realisation after arriving at Hong Kong airport with a pistol in his suitcase.
Jeff Wilson — R-Longview — was arrested for possessing an unlicensed firearm along with a few other related charges, as revealed by a spokesperson on Monday and reported in The Seattle Times. Wilson was quick to claim that this was an “honest mistake” and that he had no intention of violating any laws, neither local nor international.
WATCH: Stranger things have happened on China-bound planes.
The incident marked an unhappy start to a five-week personal vacation around Southeast Asia after departing from Portland International Airport. Though the specific airline and flight taken are yet to be revealed, the Senator did explain that he came to realise his error while reaching for a piece of gum mid-journey…
After landing in Hong Kong, the senator did the right thing by immediately alerting local authorities to what had happened. Unfortunately, his honesty didn’t help him avoid arrest for which he subsequently posted bail of HK$20,000 (c. $4,000 AUD).
Despite posting bail, Wilson still had to surrender his passport along with the firearm to authorities and so is stuck in the country awaiting a scheduled hearing on October 30th, in preparation for which he has sensibly reached out to his legal team.
“An honest mistake.”Jeff Wilson — R-Longview
It should be on the record that the firearm was registered in the US, meaning that it had been purchased legally and with all the necessary accreditation. Similarly, his trip was entirely self-funded and taken on personal leave, meaning that, though humiliating, the error was not committed while representing his state or country in any official capacity.
This hiccup has nevertheless but a blocker in meetings he had hoped to have with certain officials in China, including those from the port of Shanghai, given his role on the commission for the port of Longview. Senate Republican Leader John Braun has responded to news of the incident, emphasising that this was an “honest mistake”.
You can expect to hear that line a lot in the coming days folks…