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Sunday, 9 December, 2001, 15:43 GMT
Turks urged to reveal 'plane-spotter links'
Paul Coppin married Lesley early in 2001
Paul Coppin admits being at a Turkish air show
Turkey has been urged to reveal any links with the 12 British plane-spotters being held on spying charges in Greece.

Greek Government officials said it would be helpful if Turkey could come forward with anything it knows about the group - especially the leader, Paul Coppin.

Friends and relatives of Mr Coppin admit he went to Turkey in May as a guest of the Turkish military, but they denied that implied anything incriminating or sinister.

Mr Coppin, 45, whose company Touchdown Tours took the group to Greece on a plane-spotting trip, has said he was in Turkey as an accredited aviation journalist.

A couple of the people being held [are] now becoming mentally unstable because of the strain

Albert Coppin, father of jailed Paul Coppin

UK pressure group Fair Trials Abroad has called for Greece to be excluded from the proposed new EU-wide arrest warrant because of its handling of the affair.

There are also fears over the health of the group who, along with two Dutchmen, have been in jail a month after being arrested at a Greek air show and accused of taking photos and notes.

'Banana republic'

Greek officials stressed they had made no formal request for information from Turkey, and strongly denied a diplomatic rift between the two countries.

They also denied Fair Trials Abroad's claims that Greece was breaching the European Convention on Human Rights by detaining the group.

They expressed anger at British press criticism of their justice system.

BBC correspondent Paul Wood, in Athens, said: "Greek officials are increasingly resentful of the portrayal of their country as some kind of European banana republic.

"They say justice in the case of the plane spotters is working far more quickly than it would for a Greek citizen."

Health fears

On Sunday Labour East Region MEP Richard Howitt, who is campaigning for the group, said their health was deteriorating.

Greek officials are increasingly resentful of the portrayal of their country as some kind of European banana republic

BBC correspondent Paul Wood
His comments followed complaints by the father of Mr Coppin that many of the group had been struck down by a stomach bug for which they were not being treated.

Albert Coppin, 71, also suggested some were becoming mentally unstable because of the stress.

"This is the latest in a catalogue of mistreatment that has taken place," said Mr Howitt.

"We've had problems with access to telephones. They are having to buy their own toilet paper and water and they should have access to medication."

They are having to buy their own toilet paper and water and they should have access to medication

Labour MEP Richard Howitt

A Foreign Office spokesman said later the 11 British men had been visited by consular officials on Sunday and had not raised any concerns about their health or conditions. Judge's hearing

Later this week a panel of three judges will study a document from prosecutors, and decide whether to refer the suspects to trial, release them on bail or charge them with lesser offences.

The 12 in custody are Paul Coppin, 45 and Lesley Coppin, 51, of Mildenhall, Suffolk; Peter Norris, 52, of Uxbridge, west London; Antoni Adamiak, 37, of London; Andrew Jenkins, 32, of York; Wayne Groves, 38, of Tamworth; Michael Bussell, 47, of Swanland, near Hull; Michael Keane, 57, of Dartford, Kent; Steven Rush, 38, from Caterham, Surrey; Christopher Wilson, 46, who lives close to Gatwick Airport; Graham Arnold, 38, from Ottershaw, Surrey; and Gary Fagan, 28, from Kegworth, Leicestershire.

The BBC's Paul Wood
"This case has been marked repeatedly by delays"
UK MEP Richard Howitt
"They have not committed a crime"
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