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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
'I'll fight to clear my name'
The group of 12 British and two Dutch plane-spotters in the courthouse at Kalamata
The group had been hopeful of being cleared
Plane-spotter Steven Rush has vowed to return to Greece to appeal against his one-year suspended sentence.

Speaking outside court, he described the complete confusion in the courtroom when the verdicts were delivered.

"I don't even know at what point I actually heard that [the verdict]. The interpreter sitting near me wasn't really sure what was going on.

"It was only after that big scrum witnessed in the court that I realised what the real situation was.
Steve Rush
Steve Rush descrived the verdicts as "ludicrous"

"It's still not really sunk in.

"The group of us who have received a one-year suspended sentence are free to leave Greece and never come back if we choose not to.

"I have lodged an appeal and we all intend to come back and fight an appeal."

Mr Rush, from Caterham in Surrey, said although he appeared outwardly calm, he was angry at the decision.

"I cannot understand how anyone could find the group of people guilty of espionage.

Prison sentences

"To separate us into two groups on the basis that some had notes in a notebook and some didn't.

"We were all in Greece together. We were in two vans. We went round together and did the same thing."

"It's been a rollercoaster...and I'm surprised we're still on it

Steven Rush

He said he did not see the distinction between the two groups, and how some of them could be facing a three-year prison sentence.

Mr Rush said he was shocked "that they acquitted no-one and I include in that a grandmother who has no interest in plane-spotting whatsoever."

'Supporting each other'

But he praised the solidarity of the group, who have been strong for each other during their ordeal, which started with their arrests last November.

"One thing that has shown through, and I hope it has to the media and everyone back at home, is the great strength of unity with these group of people.

"And I for one intend seeing this as far as the others intend it to go.

"I'm with them 100% and I'll be back here in court with all those who face prison.

He said he did not believe the defence could have been put across any better, and he questioned some of the methods of the prosecution.


I think we may be victims of a culture clash

Steven Rush
Mr Rush also believed the situation was made worse by the inability of the Greeks to understand the pursuit of plane-spotting.

"I think we may be victims of a culture clash.

"I don't pretend to know an awful lot about Greek culture and custom.

"I have been here numerous times but I think the view you get from a sunny beach out in the Cyclades islands drinking beer and enjoying yourself is very, very different from being this side of the legal system.

"It's not until you experience it that you have any idea of what it's like. You assume things are the same as any other country in Europe, but unfortunately it's very different here."

He said even on a previous visit as a plane-spotter, he did not encounter any problems.

"People who are aware of this case will know that we had a fantastic welcome here in 2000.

Set to return

"How the attitude has changed in 12 months I just can't understand.

"A set of wheels were set in motion and it's been a rollercoaster ever since and I'm surprised we're still on it.

"I thought someone would have taken a decision to stop it.

"The eyes of the world are on this case and for them not to see it's doing them damage I don't understand that either.

"What we have done has been interpreted as breaking the law. I'm going to come back and prove it's not."

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