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Retired U.S. Soldier Facing Charges of Illegal Possession, Attempting to Board Plane in Zimbabwe With Unlicensed Gun  


FILE - The control tower is seen at Zimbabwe's main international airport in Harare, Nov. 9, 2017. Earlier this week, authorities arrested five activists at the airport.

A former United States soldier, Ronald Leon Johnson (56), appeared in court in Zimbabwe today facing charges of trying to board a plane with a firearm without authority and possession of an unlicensed weapon.

Johnson of Virginia, who has been in remand prison for a week, faces up to five years in jail if convicted under the country’s Firearms Act, according to the Associated Press (AP).

AP, which quoted the state-controlled Herald newspaper, reported that Johnson was arrested February 15 as he checked in at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in the capital, Harare, for a flight to the tourist town of Victoria Falls.

His lawyer, Munyaradzi Bwanya, told the Associated Press that Johnson was charged with boarding a plane with a firearm without permission and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Airport security officials found a Glock 9 mm pistol loaded with 15 rounds of ammunition after searching his suitcase, The Herald reported.

Quoting court documents, AP reports that Johnson’s home address is in Woodbridge, Virginia. He has been in Zimbabwe since February 5 on a month-long holiday visa, according to The Herald.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare declined to give out any information on Johnson's rank or period of service in the Army.

VOA correspondent Godwin Mangudya and Associated Press contributed to this article.

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