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British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 9:33 am

Again, from the BBC.

Plane-spotters sent back to jail

A group of British plane-spotters held in Greece on spy charges have been ordered to remain in prison.
It had been hoped at least some of the 12 Britons and two Dutch men would be freed on bail when they appeared before the court in Kalamata on Tuesday.

But now the 13 men and one woman are expected to spend at least two more weeks in jail, after magistrate Socrates Gavalas decided to refer the case to a higher authority.

The case will now be heard by a three-member judicial council which will rule if any of the group have to stand trial.

The BBC's Paul Wood said the Britons had been shocked not to be granted bail and looked "utterly despairing".

"It's disgusting, they are just ordinary people with ordinary lives," said Perdita Norris, whose husband Peter is one of the group.

"He has taken it badly and I worry about their mental health. It's a disgrace. Greece has disgraced itself."

But speaking later from his jail cell in Kalamata, her husband Peter maintained the group were keeping up their "true British grit".

Mr Norris said he thought it was outrageous that the group had been held in the country for so long.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "It's disappointing news for the families and detainees.

"We continue to urge the Greek authorities to deal with the case as soon as possible."


The 14 were arrested three weeks ago after allegedly taking photographs at a military air show and a military airbase.

Photographing military installations is strictly forbidden in Greece, which has longstanding military tensions with Turkey, and the charge carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence.

To be invited to an airshow and then spend three weeks in prison is just unbelievable

Steve Rush

But earlier, several group members - who insist they were merely on a week-long plane spotting holiday - had told of their hopes of being released.

Andrew Jenkins told BBC News Online: "I have done nothing wrong so why should I feel guilty? If there is any justice in the world, we will see it today."

Gary Fagan, who is accused of having a frequency scanner, said: "I'm feeling very confident - that's all I can be at the moment."

Steve Rush was less happy: "To be invited to an airshow and then spend three weeks in prison is just unbelievable.

"I came here last year - on exactly the same itinerary - and had a fantastic time... but for some reason this year they didn't like the look of us and decided to lock us up."

Wayne Groves said the group had been looked after in prison by fellow prisoners. He said other inmates, mainly Albanians, had provided them with money.

The group looked "utterly despairing" afterwards

He said there were no beds in the cell, just "thin" mattresses on a concrete floor.

British politicians have been pressing the Greek Government to release the group, but officials in Athens insist they cannot intervene in what is a matter for the Greek judiciary.

The lawyer for the Britons, Yiannis Zacharias, has said he was confident that if the case proceeded to trial, the charges would not stand.

The 12 being held include Paul Coppin, 45, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, who runs Touchdown Tours which organised the trip, and his wife Lesley.

The others are: Peter Norris, 52, of Uxbridge, west London; Antoni Adamiak, 37, of London; Andrew Jenkins, 32, of York; Wayne Groves, 38, of Tamworth; Michael Bursell, 47, of Swanland, near Hull; Michael Keane, 57, of Dartford, Kent; Steven Rush, 38; Christopher Wilson, 46; Graham Arnold, 38; and Gary Fagan, 28.


What the hell is Greece trying to prove ???, how stupid are they ???. Do they have any idea how many brits visit Greece each year ??

I would like to see the UK Govenment take action over this matter and make Greece think again before it does such a stupid thing. This has just gotten way out of hand and some one in Greece with a brain needs to solve it ASAP.


RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 9:44 am

Going into a Foreign country, and taking picture of their aircraft, and recording their movements is pretty dumb!
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2001 7:53 pm

RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 9:46 am

Look Hkgspotter1, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, and indeed I know personnally at least two of those guys in a Greek jail at the moment so I have a lot of sympathy, but... You makes your choices, you takes your chances. Touchdown knew what they were playing with and they made a call... They lost. Now they have to pay the price at the alter of Greek justice. That's life.

Greece has always been known as being "chancy" as far as spotting is concered. I'll be honest, I personnally have been lifted and spent a nervous hour or so at the attention of those who must be obeyed for supposedly taking photographs of a knackered old BAC 1-11 at Athens Helenikon (I didn't, but I'll upload pics of it one day!!!). I won't do it again. Nor, I suspect will Touchdown when (if!) they get off. Here's hoping/

But please, let the Greeks run their country as they see fit. How much freedom are you granted in your own country - China!

There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
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RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 9:55 am


If you dont like planes then get out of this forum, plane spotting and aircraft photograhy are the best things you can do to show your love of aircraft !!.


They are good points and I agree that they are very, very stupid to go to even a civil airport in Greece, however they did and they are in Jail. What I mean is why is Greece being so thick headed over this matter ??, fine them, dont let them back in Greece but keeping them in jail is not doing any good for anyone.

I will not fight with you Skymonster as there is no reason to, we are just giving our different views.
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2001 7:53 pm

RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 10:05 am


Yeh, the Greeks are being boneheads over this issue, but so would the Chinese if I spent a day peering at the CUA TU-154s at that not-to-be-named airfield near Beijing. That's life. You know the risks, you decide whether to take the chances [or not!]. As I said, I know at least two of these guys and they're the most genuine you could hope to meet, but... sadly they went to Greece and in the way of the current world they have to expect to abide by whatever the opinion is in the part of the world they decide to look at airplanes in.

There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots

RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 10:21 am

I really enjoy learning, about and flying airplanes however I think spending hours at an airport watching airplanes and writing down numbers is going over the top. It just sad people spend so much time (4+ hours)whatching airplanes (which pretty much do the same thing).
CX Flyboy
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Joined: Sun Dec 26, 1999 6:10 pm

RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Wed Nov 28, 2001 10:52 am

It's a very defeatist attitude to simply claim 'that's life'. There is a lot of international politics involved here, and 'that's life' simply doesn't cut it. The Greek government realises that British tourists bring in a lot of money every year, and this is all adverse publicity. I am not saying that what the spotters did was right. They are idiots for being there, but there must (or rather should be) much more tact involved in resolving this matter.

By the way, I love my freedom here thanks.
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RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Thu Nov 29, 2001 7:00 pm


When talking about stupidity think twice please. Greece is a european country with modern legislation and freedom in every aspect of life.

I would like to see the UK Govenment take action over this matter.

The imperial times are over. Haven't you noticed?

What the hell is Greece trying to prove ???

It's a very sensitive situation when you see someone taking photos and taking notes of military activity, especially nowadays that the greek bases are being used from US forces for the Afghanistan war.

In every european country the law is the same. It's not a greek oddity. Military installations should not be photographed. Period.

The judge has the law. He has to make a decision according to the facts and the existing law. He cannot just release them. This would be a direct violation of the law.


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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 3:59 am

RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Thu Nov 29, 2001 7:18 pm

Hey guys,

I was in the European Parliament yesterday and there
were calls from UK MP's to the EP President, for urging
the Greek authorites to release those spotters! I
definitely agree jailing people because they took pictures of aircrafts is a little bit ridiculous, while we
could consider the security agents have more to do
screening the bags and passports! Nevertheless, things
should be said: (1) it's universally known that spotting
in Greece and in various countries also (just try to take pics of Mirages close to a French Air Base or even a Nuclear Power Plant....), is totally forbiden for security measures. Every summer, there are cases of poor tourists enjoying the "first class Greek cells" for having spotted aircrafts... (2) Some of the people arrested, have been warned twice before being brought to jail by the cops, they have been explained they can't take pictures but they tried to do it again regardless the firm calls not to do so!!! I'm not defending the Greek point of view which seem to me a too harsh considering the absence of threath to their national security, but I blame also some of the spotters who have been warned before....It's like playing with matches and getting
burnt while you've been warned so many times!

Well, I just hope the Greek authorities will have more
tact by releasing as soon as possible those guys! By
the way, Greece is a nice country (I have myself
Greek origin) and please some of you, don't go into
the stereotype remarks!!!!
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2001 10:42 pm

RE: British Spotters IN Greece

Thu Nov 29, 2001 7:20 pm

The operator of this trip (touchdown) have I believe a poor reputation in the UK compared to other companies who organise similar trips. They always manage to attract attention by doing something risky and this time have been caught. Is it a case of one member of the group doing something stupid and ruining it for the rest? - I have seen it happen before. On a recent trip to Moscow there was a particular dutch spotter who was always having to be told to stay with the rest of the group, on 1 occasion if he had been seen by the guards (on a russian a/f base btw) would have led to all sorts of trouble I am sure. In fact the reputation of some dutch spotters has led to all dutch spotters to be barred from certain UK companies.

English First, British Second, european Never!

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