Mystery surrounds case involving Canadian man allegedly held by fake cops in Thailand
We’re not sure what to make of a news item about 25-year-old Canadian man Shawn Johnson, who allegedly came to Thailand on vacation on Jan. 4, and called his best friend on Jan. 9 in the middle of the night to tell her that he was being detained in a basement in Bangkok by men dressed as police.
Johnson claimed that the men had demanded US$3,000 (THB95,820) to release him or else he’d have to go to trial in 48 hours. Later, when Johnson spoke to his twin sister, he said the men had raised the cost to US$5,000 (THB159,700), reported Canadian news site Global News.
Supposedly, when his sister mentioned calling the Canadian Embassy, the men took their offer off the table and said that Johnson must stand trial.
According to his friends, he was accused of having marijuana by the officers, who he did not believe were real police officers. They also expressed doubt that their friend would have drugs on him.
The Canadian news site wrote that at least one Canadian government agency is aware of the situation. “Global Affairs Canada is aware of the arrest of a Canadian citizen in Thailand and consular officials are in contact with local authorities, the individual and the family,” they reported.
No one has allegedly spoken to Johnson since the flurry of calls on Jan. 9. When his friend allegedly last spoke to the Canadian Embassy, an official told them Johnson had been located and was detained at an undisclosed Bangkok police station.
Neither the Global News story, the Gofundme page, or Johnson’s Facebook page show any photos or evidence that he came to Thailand.
An update to the Gofundme page said that Johnson does not have a lawyer and has decided to plead guilty to a charge of distribution of marijuana. The Gofundme is allegedly to get him a lawyer. If found guilty, the penalty would be a prison term of 2-10 years and/ or a fine between THB40,000 to THB200,000, if the drugs do not exceed 10 kilograms.
The story has not appeared in Thai media, but a story about a foreigner busted for having a small amount of drugs often would not unless there was some extraordinary aspect to the case.