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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 20:20 GMT
Spy charge Britons separated
A policeman (left) escorts the airplane enthusiasts to the public prosecutor's office
Leslie Coppin now has to wait alone in a new prison
The son of a British woman plane-spotter held in Greece on suspicion of spying is worried his mother has moved to a prison with a reputation for violence.

Grandmother Leslie Coppin, 51, was separated from the other 11 Britons, all men including her husband Paul Coppin, when she was taken to Korydalos prison in a suburb of Athens.

The men have now been taken to a prison about 80 miles from Athens in the town of Nafplion, following the group's arrest on 8 November in Kalamata, in south-east Greece.

They all deny taking photographs inside a restricted military zone, a charge which carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence in Greece, and are due in court on Monday.

Mrs Coppin's son, Stephen Warren, 31, who lives near Mildenhall in Suffolk, said that the prisoners' move was completely unexpected.


The feeling is one of disbelief that 12 British tourists acting legally can be treated like this

Stephen Warren
Mrs Coppin's son

He said: "We were informed this morning that they had been moved after being told last night they would stay where they were.

"You can imagine that any grandmother in that situation, being in jail and nobody speaking English, surrounded by prisoners, will be in a bad way.

"I think she will be feeling very isolated and very down - the longer that this goes on then the more I get concerned about her keeping her positivity.

"The feeling is one of disbelief that 12 British tourists acting legally can be treated like this.

"I hope that the British Government can do all they can to get them released as soon as possible."
Leslie Coppin, right, with another, unidentified. suspect
The aviation enthusiasts deny the charges

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.

The British consul who has been liaising with the Greek authorities, Donald Holder, denied reports that her jail was high-security.

He said that the prisoners had been moved because they could no longer be held in police cells.

She is understandably very low given the fact that she is on her own with people who don't speak English

Donald Holder
British consul

He had visited Mrs Coppin in Korydalos prison and understood she was in a cell with at least six other women.

Mr Holder said: "It is a women's prison in which there are prisoners who have committed serious offences.

"But there are a lot of prisoners who have committed minor offences as well.

"She is understandably very low given the fact that she is on her own with people who don't speak English.

Boost morale

"We have to do everything we can to boost her morale at the moment.

"I have given her a phone card and she will be able to talk to relatives in the UK over the weekend."

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.

There are also two Dutch men being questioned.

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
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