Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Plane-spotters from UK charged in India

Stephen Hampton with his camera
Mr Hampton has photographed planes all over the world, his mother said

Two UK plane-spotters arrested in India have been charged with intercepting communications, the Foreign Office (FCO) has confirmed.

Stephen Hampton and Steven Ayres, from Bristol, charged under the Telegraph Act, are due in court on 23 February.

Under the act, persons unlawfully intercepting official messages could face a year in prison or a fine of 500 rupees (£7).

The pair were held at Delhi International Airport last Monday.

Railway workers Mr Hampton, from Keynsham, and Mr Ayres, from St George, sparked suspicion after asking a Delhi hotel for a room overlooking a runway.

They were carrying an air traffic control scanner, a laptop, binoculars and cameras.

An FCO spokeswoman said it could not speculate on the likely outcome of the trial but confirmed the men were receiving consular assistance.

'Primitive' conditions

The pair are being held in a New Delhi immigration centre.

Mr Hampton's mother Eileen Cock said he had travelled all over the world photographing aircraft.

Steven Ayres
Mr Ayres is a work colleague of Mr Hampton

His MP, Dan Norris, has phoned Mr Hampton and said he was getting anxious.

"It's a fairly primitive existence.

"There's just cold running water and fairly primitive loos and he's crowded in with between 30 and 50 other people, none of whom speak English, so it's not the greatest situation for him," he said.

"It's adding to his pressure knowing that people are speculating about his release when in fact he's still there."

Mr Norris added that, even though it was a minor offence, the judge could make an example of them and raise the fine as punishment.

The arrests happened during a security crackdown in the wake of a bomb blast in the Indian city of Pune, the country's first such explosion in over a year.



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Hartlepool Mail Planespotters released on bail - 46 mins ago
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