BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 26 April, 2002, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Greek 'secrets' are open on the net
man surfing
'Secrets' are available at your fingertips

With a click of the mouse, anyone can find the same aircraft numbers collected by the British plane-spotters standing trial for being spies. Is anything top secret thanks to the net?
How can the registration numbers of the Greek military aircraft at Kalamata be secret if anyone from Tooting to Timbuktu can download them from the internet?

Giving evidence at the trial of 12 British plane-spotters accused of collecting classified information at his airbase, squadron leader Nektarios Samaras seemed enraged by the breadth of material available online.

"The information is classified. Just because someone's managed to spread it around the world that doesn't mean it's not still classified."

Screen grab on Zap16.com
Greek military pictures available easily - here on Zap16.com
The squadron leader says moves are afoot to stem the flow of restricted information about the air force which goes onto plane-spotter websites. He may be fighting a losing battle.

One popular search engine returns 67,200 web pages mentioning the Greek or Hellenic air force - and that is in English alone. Paul Jackson, a respected defence journalist and an expert witness at the trial, told BBC News Online that some military officials have an "inflated opinion" of how secret their units are.

"Why would anyone spend six months in Greece peeking over fences when they can just look at the internet?"

However, Mr Jackson says that the net has not breached military security; it has merely allowed ordinary people freer access to information about the armed forces their taxes fund.
Several of the plane-spotters at last year's trial
Two of the accused plane-spotters, handcuffed at a previous court hearing

"The authorities have always had their ways of finding out about each other's forces. It is often filtered down to defence journalists. The internet merely means that ordinary people gain easy access. This doesn't change strategic situation."

Cross-referencing

Even the Greek Air Force seems to agree. Its official website says that it is the Greek people's democratic right to know about the service.

The site lists all Greek and military aircraft and with some simple cross-referencing with NATO's website it's possible to work out how many pilots and maintenance crews the Greeks employ.

Will this prove tantalising to Greece's rival Turkey? No. They already know far more, it seems. Thanks to the 10-year-old Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, Turkey already has a detailed run-down of Greece's military capabilities, helpfully updated by the Greeks every few months. They don't even have to go online, let alone send spies.


Key stories

FEATURES
Internet links:


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

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


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes