A Hong Kong photojournalist who was arrested at a Bangkok airport on Sunday for allegedly carrying a bulletproof vest in his hand luggage could face five years in jail, as journalists urged Thai authorities to drop the case. Anthony Kwan Hok-chun, 29, who was released on bail, is accused of breaching the 1987 Arms Control Act, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. Bulletproof vests are controlled items under Thai law and a licence is required to own them, except for military or police use. During a pre-trial hearing yesterday afternoon, Thai police made an unsuccessful request to detain the Initium Media news photographer until the investigation had been concluded. The judge said Kwan had to surrender his passport, could not leave the country, and must report to the court every 12 days. Bail of 100,000 baht (HK$21,600) was posted. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) was “dismayed” by the detention. Club president Jonathan Head, the BBC’s Bangkok correspondent, said questions remained over whether Kwan would be hauled before a military court. “It is not clear that he will be tried in a military court. Yesterday [Sunday], the police said he would, and possession of weapons since the coup is considered an offence for a military court, but the signs right now are that they will be lenient,” Head said. Kwan’s lawyer, Sirikarn Charoensiri, told the South China Morning Post that the proceedings could drag on for six weeks. She said that, in cases involving foreigners, courts often imposed conditions preventing departure from the country. Fear that suspects might abscond “might be the reason why the court might not grant bail”. “In this case he got bail, [and a commitment] he would not abscond and not leave the country,” she added. Police will hand the case to the public prosecutor, who will decide if there is enough evidence to prosecute. No journalist in Thailand has been prosecuted for possessing body armour. Kwan was returning to Hong Kong after spending a week covering the aftermath of the August 17 Erawan Shrine bombing. The FCCT said in a statement: “Body armour and helmets used by journalists are not offensive weapons and should not be treated as such. We urge the authorities not to press ahead with the criminal case against Mr Kwan, and to work with the media community in Thailand to decriminalise the legitimate use of body armour and other relevant and purely protective items.” Before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he was “very concerned” about Kwan's detention. “I have reflected my concern to the [Chinese] Foreign Ministry, and hope that the Chinese embassy in Thailand can provide appropriate assistance. I also hope the Thai government would not only think of the law … but [what is] reasonable as well when considering this case.” Journalists Hiro Muramoto and Fabio Polenghi were shot and killed while covering street protests in Bangkok in 2010. Neither was wearing body armour and the FCCT said both might have survived with protection.