Former U of M journalist detained after Thai bombing told he can leave country

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The former University of Minnesota student detained at an airport in Thailand for having body armor in his luggage has been told he can leave the Asian country.

Anthony Kwan, a photojournalist who formerly worked at the Minnesota Daily while living in the Twin Cities, has had his passport returned by Thai authorities, who told him he can travel provided he returns on Sept. 17 for a bail renewal hearing, the Associated Press reports.

The photographer was covering the August bombing in Bangkok, but was arrested and charged with carrying an illegal weapon for having body armor in his luggage as he boarded a plane.

He said was using the protective gear for his duties as a journalist in a potentially dangerous area, but such equipment requires a license to possess in Thailand.

According to the South China Morning Post, while Kwan will be allowed to return to Hong Kong – where he lives and works – he has not decided yet whether he will leave Thailand at this stage.

"The case is still under investigation, and I don't really know what's going to happen next, but I'm grateful that I've got my passport back and I can temporarily go home," he told the newspaper.

Kwan's lawyer also told the newspaper that Kwan is not intending to abscond, saying he will "defend his innocence till the end and not risk his career reputation."

Journalists are known to wear body armor and helmets when they are working in warzones or places of unrest, and his arrest was condemned by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand.

The bombing in the Thai capital last month killed 20 people.

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

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

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