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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hong Kong court drops case against Jeff Wilson after the Wash. state senator carried an unlicensed handgun into the city

Sen. Jeff Wilson editorial photos, Jan. 5, 2021.  (
By Claire Withycombe Seattle Times

OLYMPIA – A Hong Kong court dismissed a gun possession case against Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, a little over a week after he was first detained for bringing an unlicensed firearm into the city, according to a statement from his office Sunday night.

The hearing took place Sunday evening, which was Monday morning in Hong Kong. A statement from the senator’s office did not explain why the court dismissed the case, and Wilson’s spokesman, reached by phone, couldn’t provide an explanation.

“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 efficiently, and I want to apologize for the concern I created.”

On Oct. 20, Wilson had flown out of Portland International Airport for a five-week vacation to Southeast Asia. Baggage screeners at PDX did not catch the gun, according to Wilson’s office. The Transportation Security Administration is investigating the incident.

The first leg of the trip was from Portland to San Francisco. But he only realized he had the gun in his briefcase while he was on the flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, according to the statement provided by his office.

“This was a mistake on my part, and I regret it,” Wilson said. “I packed quickly and failed to check the contents of my briefcase. Over the Pacific (Ocean), I reached into my briefcase for gum and felt my gun instead. My heart sank. 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.”

Once he landed in Hong Kong, he alerted customs authorities right away, according to the statement from his office. He was arrested and detained for several days before being released on bail on Oct. 23.

The firearm has been surrendered to authorities, Wilson’s spokesperson, Erik Smith, said Sunday night. Wilson, who had surrendered his passport, got it back after the court hearing.

“I think we all can learn from what happened here,” Wilson said. “First, of course, to always check your carry-on baggage before you go through airport security. But more important, when you make a mistake like this one, the right thing to do is to show respect and accept responsibility.”

In a statement, Senate Republican leader John Braun of Centralia conveyed relief.

“We are all relieved that charges against Sen. Wilson have been dismissed and that he was treated fairly by the justice system in Hong Kong,” Braun said. “We’ll be happy when he returns home and we’re grateful that he can continue to serve the people of his district.”