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Former U of M journalist arrested after covering Thailand bombing

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A former journalist for the Minnesota Daily who traveled to Thailand to cover last week's bombing has been arrested for having body armor in his luggage.

Hong Kong-based Anthony Kwan, who previously worked on the staff at the University of Minnesota's newspaper, was stopped at the international airport in the Thai capital of Bangkok Sunday, the Pioneer Press reports.

He had been covering the bombing in central Bangkok that left 20 dead, and authorities found body armor and a helmet in his carry-on luggage before he boarded his flight to Hong Kong.

He was initially detained, but the BBC reports he has since been released on bail and faces a charge of carrying an illegal weapon – which has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Thai law bans possession of military equipment without a license, but the BBC notes that journalists are known to use body armor and helmets when reporting in dangerous locations.

According to his website, Kwan moved to the United States in 2003 and joined The Minnesota Daily as a staff photographer in 2011.

His work has been published by Minnesota Public Radio, American Public Media and the Associated Press.

His arrest has been condemned by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand, the Star Tribune reports – the group is urging Thai authorities to drop the criminal case against Kwan.

"Body armor and helmets used by journalists are not offensive weapons and should not be treated as such," the FCCT told the newspaper Monday.

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