BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 14:34 GMT
Further wait for spy charge Britons
Plane-spotters arrested in Greece
The aviation enthusiasts deny the charges
The 12 British plane-spotters being held on spy charges in Greece have had their next court appearance postponed until Monday.

The 11 men and one woman, who are alleged to have been taking photographs at a military air show, had hoped their case would be dealt with before the weekend.

This is becoming an extremely serious case

Stephen Jakobi, Fair Trials Abroad

On Wednesday, Greek intelligence officers began studying the group's photographs and notebooks and are due to send an assessment to the investigating magistrate.

Stephen Jakobi, director of Fair Trials Abroad said: "The proceedings are going to be adjourned until at least Monday.

"This is becoming an extremely serious case. Quite apart from the human distress, it raises questions about judicial standards in Europe."

Harsh penalty

The group, who were arrested last Thursday, are in jail in Kalamata, in south-east Greece.

Two Dutch nationals who were with the group are also being held.

They all deny taking photographs inside a restricted military zone, a charge which carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence in Greece.

They are all keeping each other's spirits up

Wife of detainee Peter Norris

A lawyer for the Britons, Yiannis Zacharias, told the BBC that security forces arrested the group because they thought they were "looking and acting suspiciously".

The charges were increased to full-blown espionage after, the Greek authorities allege, notebooks were seized containing details of other airfields.

The offence is often treated harshly in Greece because of longstanding military tensions with Turkey.

British diplomats had expected the court would view the whole affair as arising out of a misunderstanding about what the hobby of plane-spotting involves.

Organised tour

The flying club members were travelling with an organisation called Touchdown Tours.

Paul Coppin, from Mildenhall, Suffolk, runs the tour company and is one of those being held.

Others detained include Peter Norris, 52, of Uxbridge, west London, Wayne Groves, 38, of Tamworth, Andrew Jenkins, 32, from York, Mick Keane and Steve Rush, the Foreign Office confirmed.

The wife of Mr Norris said on Thursday she was now considering flying out to Greece.

Perdita Norris said: "I spoke to my husband yesterday in the morning and he seemed a bit glum but his spirits were up later in the day and he is waiting to come home.

"They are all keeping each other's spirits up. But there is no reason that they should be kept there - that is what makes me cross."

The BBC's Paul Wood
"The hobby of plane-spotting simply does not exist in Greece"
Stephen Jakobi from Fair Trials Abroad
"There are some serious lessons to learn from this"
Yiannis Nikiteas, lawyer for the Britons
says his clients did not take any photographs
See also:

14 Nov 01 | UK
I spy ... another plane
14 Nov 01 | Europe
Spy case Britons' film examined
26 Nov 00 | UK
Cuba frees 'spying' Britons
07 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Greece
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories