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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 10:06 GMT
Greek plane-spotters: What should happen next?
Euro MP Richard Howitt has said that a decision to free at least some of the British plane-spotters held in Greece on espionage charges could be made by Wednesday.
Although the Greek justice minister, Filippos Petsalnikos, claimed that national security was breached by the group of 12, Mr Howitt said the Foreign Ministry had been encouraging about their prospects.
It is hoped that the three-week ordeal, which began with their arrest at the Kalamata airbase on 8 November, will end when their case goes before a three judge panel.
The group of 11 men and one woman have denied spying charges, which carry a 20-year maximum sentence.
Are you happy with the way the plane-spotters have been treated by both the British and Greek authorities? What do you think can be done to resolve the situation?
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This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
It is for the Greek people and government to decide whether they regard plane spotting as a danger to their national security. There was a similar case to this twenty-odd years ago and I would have thought anyone going to Greece for plane spotting would have taken the trouble to find out how it was likely to be viewed there before going. Or do these people inhabit a world completely cut off from reality?
Maybe we could do a swap - the prisoners for the Elgin Marbles.
Simon Moore, UK
And our leaders want us to join countries like Greece in a Federated European state? Whatever will they make of our trainspotters?
Does this make plane spotting an extreme sport?
The Greeks are within their rights to arrest and/or jail the British plain spotters. They continued to violate Greek law after having been verbally warned. When visiting any country a person must accept their laws and abide by them. This was a blatant disregard and disrespect for Greek law and the plane spotters should be punished according to it. When will British people learn that they cannot behave as they wish wherever they go? Being British is not a passport to do what you wish and an example should be set.
Chris B, England
Plane spotting has never been so interesting.
Given Britain's track record, the hypocrisy of the British Foreign Affairs Department in this instance is expected but nonetheless inexcusable. Perhaps British officials would achieve more by counselling and warning 'plane-spotters' of the dangers of engaging in their hobby outside Britain. Alternatively, they might consider employing them to spot and track British and US airplanes as they launch air strikes against innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Such records will be useful when the history of the "war on terror" is written.
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
Among all the really silly comparisons of these idiots with real terrorists, something serious is being forgotten. Greece is the country that has several real terrorist groups, called May 1, November 17 and ELA that between them have carried out multiple murders and bombing. But Greece has so far failed to make any arrests, leading to suspicions of collusion. But let some crazy aeroplane spotter wander by, and the Greeks suddenly become crack detectives. Does this sort of thing make anyone else besides me wonder what is really going on?
Jason, Manchester, England
The ignorant and chauvinist coverage from the UK media certainly doesn't help. Given that the group was arrested and warned three days before gives the game away, doesn't it? They are guilty of ignorance and stupidity and one of them could be guilty of more serious crimes given his links with the Turkish military. The Greek justice system doesn't need help from anyone, especially British tabloids. And you can thank the Greek Justice for not having laws like Mr Blunkett's latest proposals.
Leigh Bowden, UK
This is a case of cultural colonialism. Why would the Greeks tolerate unauthorised British plane-spotters on prohibited territory? Maybe Greek lamb-spitting Easter festivities can be held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace?
Honestly - what exactly do the Greek authorities believe the British would want to spy on? Some of their cutting edge high tech military equipment perhaps? Don't make me laugh. Just release them and stop embarrassing yourselves.
Like all suspected terrorists of foreign descent these people should be held without trial. That is what would happen to them in this country! Should they expect to be treated any differently abroad?
I personally don't understand why this has been made such a big issue in the UK. We are talking about a group of people who are suspected of having violated some laws pertaining to national security and a judicial investigation is in progress as per Greek law. Would people suspected of breaking national security laws be let go in the UK before a proper and full investigation?
Julian Hayward, UK
Richard Chubb, UK
Throw Greece out of the EU, sever all political ties, impose sanctions, and remove them from NATO. Too extreme? Not as extreme at locking up innocent individuals in poor conditions then threatening them with a 20 year prison sentence for taking a few pictures. Get real Greece.
Linda WS, Canada
I am Greek. I am a postgraduate student in Politics in Britain. Imagine what would happen if I was caught taking photographs of a British military base - twice? Probably the same thing that happened to the British people who were taking photographs of a military base in Greece.
I am really sorry that the British plane-spotters do not find conditions in Greek jails up to their standards. However, the easiest way of avoiding being in a Greek prison is by obeying Greek laws and by not being stupidly arrogant and na´ve as in the case of those twelve.
Sometimes it's difficult to believe that Greece is not only part of the EU, but of Nato as well. When are the authorities going to be a little more mature and a little less paranoid?
Rokos Frangos, UK
02 Dec 01 | Europe
Plane-spotters 'may soon be free'
01 Dec 01 | England
Plane-spotter pleads for government help
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