View Full Version : Spotters up your nose (merged)

23rd Apr 2002, 01:50
I see on the news that the planespotters are back to Greece for their court case. :rolleyes:

Wonder if they bothered to get the rego. of the plane in which they returned to Greece? :D

Tartan Gannet
23rd Apr 2002, 05:40
Unless Greece can extradite for this alleged offence , I cant see why they went back to Greece. I most certainly would NOT have done so if back in the safety of England. Good luck to our lads! Haste ye back to dear Old Blighty! (This should blow any thought of the Greeks getting the Elgin Marbles back out of the water for some years to come).

23rd Apr 2002, 10:42
Well to my mind, Paul Coppin was way too smug about it all on TV yesterday.

I wish them well, but I think they were just plain stupid for going (dont care what "permission"they had), but I would just love that smug look to be wiped off his face.

His assertion (under advice) is that the most they will get is 2 years, which is automatically turned into a fine under Greek Law.

I wouldnt bet on it....:rolleyes:

Oh and they've already booked their flights home.......brave, very brave

Tricky Woo
23rd Apr 2002, 10:44
Should give 'em two years just for being so pathetic.


23rd Apr 2002, 12:14
They had to go back, TG..........£9000 bail being one part of it, plus a genuine desire to clear their names.

M-o-t-f............all we can do is hope that justice (of the common sense variety) prevails.

Tricky.....shame on you! I bet you do stuff that others might consider pathetic too - me, I support Nottingham Forest!

23rd Apr 2002, 12:25
I hope they get jail.

It's well known, documented and bloody well told to all "spotters" heading down there, that the authorities, are paranoid to the point of delerium, about activities that can be construed as spying.

Once again, a bunch of "We know better" idiots, have been caught, taking serial numbers down, in a VERY sensitive part of a Greek Airbase. The Greeks allegedly, had told the party where they could and couldn't go, and this lot were lifted, after they started peeking round hangars, and areas off-limits to their tour.

Lets see Coppin and the rest of his band of Morons try that on an IDF base.

I have NO sympathy whatsoever. It is not the first time plane-spotters have been arrested in Greece, and the stories are certainly well known in the community.

They thought They'd try it on, they got caught, so now do the time or pay the fine, or at least , try and convince the Greek authorities, you are engaged in a harmless pursuit. So I advise, a few "Ian Allan" publications to be produced in court, or didn't they think of that?

We also seem to have forgotten, that what the greeks are most upset about, is that one member of the party, is very, or alleged to be pally with the Turkish Military.

At the very least, they spolit it, for a great many dedicated enthusiasts, who have been talking to the Greek government about "responsible" spotting.


23rd Apr 2002, 12:36
You're a million miles from the truth, solotk; no trespass took place, the Turkish issue has already been discounted, and for your info, at least one of the group has visited Israel (IDF), with permission, and had no problems.

As always, care had been taken to gain permission BEFORE the trip, and the rules were stuck to.....even more so in the light of 9/11.

Fact of the matter is, it was a misunderstanding, and the authorities now have their chance to draw a line and finish this matter, without losing face.

Let's hope they do so.

23rd Apr 2002, 16:19
I would think spotters of the 'ard 'airy type would consider an airliner reggie a bit sissy.

Tartan Gannet
23rd Apr 2002, 23:05
Id happily forfeit £9k bail than spend time in a Greek slammer!

23rd Apr 2002, 23:09
OK - who did that to John Hurt's cat? Own up now! :D

23rd Apr 2002, 23:10

Why don't they just surf the net for porn like the rest of us?

25th Apr 2002, 16:56
I really cannot resist commenting on the latest stage in the farce being played out in Greece with their military accusing these people of being spies. Whilst I agree that they may have been less than sensible or diplomatic, their accusers are being a tad childish. Are these sad military chaps really part of Europe? Pity we can't have a weakest link in stupidity


25th Apr 2002, 17:41
I think the Greeks have lost their marbles.


25th Apr 2002, 18:25
Methinks this has something to do with Greek people having no idea what a "hobby" is.

No Hornby train sets or anoraked people on railway bridges with jotters etc....

Am I wrong?

The Nr Fairy
26th Apr 2002, 09:30
Plain bonkers ?

26th Apr 2002, 10:45
Should they be:-

(a) Imprisoned provided we give back the Elgin Marbles
(b) Imprisoned provided they send us lots of Ouzo
(c) Set free provided we give back the Elgin Marbles
(d) Set free provided they send us lots of Ouzo
(e) Executed provided we send them lots of Ouzo
(f) Executed provided we ask Hollywood to apologise for the film adaptations of Zorba the Greek, 300 Spartans and Captain Corelli's Mandolin


26th Apr 2002, 11:02
I was happy with Jeremy Clarkson's idea of providing the Turks with a list of the exact location of all four of the Greeks' F-4 Phantoms and one F-16...

WxJx ;)

Celtic Emerald
26th Apr 2002, 12:00
Yeah I agree with nopax, thanx

Maybe they'd think that spending ages posting on a forum & surfing the Internet is pathetic Tricky.

I belonged to a club once where that's all they were into big time. Did my head in, bored me to tears but there you go; 'Different strokes for different folks'.

I have to admit the only type of planespotting I used to enjoy was from the inside of a cockpit & I doubt somehow I'll ever have that privilege again.


26th Apr 2002, 12:04
This maybe naive of me but how can a member of the public who, by virtue of a place being open to the public, be accused of spying - the fact that "secrets" are not protected appropriately (forget the nature of the "secrets" in this instance) is surely the key here. If the Greeks are incapable of maintaining the relevant level of security then why in tarnation have an Air Display!!!

:D :confused:

26th Apr 2002, 12:05
Er well plain versus plane, just fought it were a play on worms:D

Huggy is obviously in two minds, but I agree with everything he says - or doesn't!

What annoys me it the enormous area given over to military airspace over Greece to the very considerable detriment to the civil operations, all for a few very tired and emotional phantoms and their obviously mentally strained crews.

26th Apr 2002, 12:06
Thank you, dear sir.....nice to have some support! Getting to a very nervous time now - one of the group is an old friend and I'm keeping everything crossed so hard that it hurts.............

Celtic Emerald
26th Apr 2002, 12:13
Oh I'm so sorry nopax, thanks!

Must be a very frightening time for him all because of an innocent mistake. I hope everything works out well.


26th Apr 2002, 12:17
Cheers Emerald - BTW, flapsforty, any way we can link the two threads that are going on this - I'm going cross-eyed trying to keep up!

26th Apr 2002, 13:48
Have just heard they've been found guilty of espionage :( No more details yet...


26th Apr 2002, 13:50
BBC news says they're going down.

P'raps could post several unused return tickets from Greece up on Ebay? Airline registration G-UILTY?

Whoops! :eek:

26th Apr 2002, 13:54
Update - they've been given 3 years in jail :( :( :(


Brit Abroad
26th Apr 2002, 14:12
That's a disgraceful outome. Sounds like these innocent people are on the receiving end of a sad political argument between Greece and UK.

I hope there is an appeal and that the British Government steps in.

Absolutely unbelievable...

26th Apr 2002, 14:15
Apparently that will be possible, and they can still come home pending the outcome of the appeal - still terrible news for all concerned; I am including Greece in this, as their reputation will undoubtedly suffer.

26th Apr 2002, 14:44
Well whatever the members of this site think, the Greeks think differently. They've just been jailed for espionage for 3 years each.
My only thought is, given that Greeks are notorious about looking out for 'spies', why did these people continue to pursue their 'hobby'?

26th Apr 2002, 14:51
Because the trip was pre-arranged and approved by the Greek military - someone at another airfield saw them and called the police.....who spoke with them, told them that they not breaking the law and then called ahead to Kalamata.

At Kalamata, another member of the security forces followed them and then had them arrested outside.....now the Greek military police don't want it to look like they've been wasting their time.

A very sorry spectacle indeed......................

Tartan Gannet
26th Apr 2002, 15:07
Why do I feel a sudden urge to send a donation to a Turkish Cypriot action group?

If they are allowed to come home, then they should come home and stay home. As said before I would have stayed in the UK and blown the £9k bail. Can they be extradited for this? Any legal eagle care to comment.

Im sure HMG can bring a little economic pressure to bear on our Greek "Friends", go on Tony, try batting for the UK for a change!

TG decides to boycott Ouzo and Greek Restaurants from now on!

:mad: :mad: :mad:

26th Apr 2002, 15:21
They're just a bunch of sad geeks. But if that was an imprisonable offence, 98% of PPRuNe members would be in the Bridewell without further delay.

Spying? What nonsense. OK. No kebabs tonight.

26th Apr 2002, 15:35
The Euro arrest warrant has been approved, and could apply in the future to these guys - they've got no choice but to play by the rules.

Also, a conviction like this on your record can stop you getting entry into countries like the USA.

Thanks for the support, all those who have voiced it!

You want it when?
26th Apr 2002, 15:35
From the news channel...

KALAMATA, Greece (Reuters) - A Greek court has ordered the release of 12 British and two Dutch planespotters, suspending jail terms of up to three years that it had handed them earlier for obtaining state secrets.

"Tell them they must be careful from now on," Judge Potoula Fotopoulou told the court translator to relay to the defendants on Friday as she ordered them freed.

Eight had been sentenced to three years for "illegally obtaining state secrets" and six received one year terms as accessories.

Bern Oulli
26th Apr 2002, 20:02
And all because the Greeks are scared fa*tless that these "aviation enthusiasts" might have passed on the notes they were taking to the TURKS. Shock, Horror.

Just a minute Eccles, aren't they both members of NATO? Isn't this information freely available in any aviation magazine unobtainable only in Greece?

Why not just refuse to accept Greek aircraft into UK airspace until the Greeks realise that this is really going beyond a joke.

Plane spotting may be a strange hobby - they are obviously not ATCOs - but we all have hobbies that others might regard as "strange". In this country however we don't lock people up for it unless it involves animals or children.

Tartan Gannet
26th Apr 2002, 21:14
I wont usually buy shares on principle but Im tempted to either buy shares in Greek Companies or buy Drachma them dump them for pennies in the pound to help a run on the Greek Economy. Unfortunately, Im just an ordinary bloke NOT George Sorous (sp?) but if let's all try this and as Ive said before, boycott Greek restaurants, holidays, products etc.

As Ive also said, we should now pulverise the Elgin Marbles and use the powder to grout the tiles in a public toilet before we ever return them to the "Bubbles" after this!

We in the UK can do without Greece, can it do without us?

26th Apr 2002, 21:19
Boycott easyJet and all kebab shops, refuse to buy ouzo, do not do it "greek style" and send back Phil the Bubble, hey? :D

Tartan Gannet
26th Apr 2002, 21:32
Phil the Greek was more German- Danish than anything, Sonderburg-Glucksburg Von Schlesweig-Holstein is NOT exactly "Zorba" or "Stavros" is it? Anyway, he served in the RN during WW2 so that is good enough for me, Huggy.

The point is that the Greeks have grossly over reacted about this. Its not as if they are a major military power these days, Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great have been dead a long, long time, and Im sure the Turks are quite aware of what hardware the Greeks have and vice versa.

Now Im sure we have a few Greek criminals due for trial in UK Courts. Get the message Your Worships, or M'Lud?

27th Apr 2002, 01:03
Theres no way these guys were plane spotters. There isn't a beard amongst them!!

Send them down I say... A few years in the slammer might make them see sense and realise that there is more to life than noting tail numbers. I noticed one of the guys gave his profession as 'professional aircraft enthusiast'. Sure mate, and I'm the Pope!

Anyone this daft should be locked up!


27th Apr 2002, 01:38
Bern Oulli

Yes - the whole escapade is a pure, microcosmic example of a culture clash. The Greeks simply can't comprehend why people would just want to photograph and write down numbers of aeroplanes as an activity for its own sake.

I don't understand spotters. Many years ago I found one standing with his notebook next to my shiny new (to me) Yak at a fly in, and asked if he wanted to step up into the cockpit. His eyes widened in terror and he ran away, literally, as fast as his fawn corduroy trousered legs would carry him. It never occurred to me to do anything other than smile, but in a different world....

Probably, the Britih diplomats trying to smooth the whole thing over can't come up with an explanation the Greeks would understand either.

27th Apr 2002, 04:03
All this business about planespotters has rekindled a puzzlement of mine I have had ever since joing this board.

Many, many of you exhibit a disdain (sometimes bordering on hatred) for this hobby, pastime, whatever. For the life of me I can't figure out why.

I know they can be mildly annoying at times, as I witnessed a group running amok at NBAA a couple of years ago. But I didn't feel the need to froth about it then or now.

So what exactly is it about them that seems to get your goat ? Genuine question - not a wind-up. The need to mock someone (anyone) ? A real concern about security ? Elitism ? Is it because they are (mostly) white males - the only group still a legitimate PC target ?

Seems to me aviation is the only career where anyone expressing an interest (however tangential) is harrassed, discouraged or at worst banged up. All points of view welcome. Serious discussion preferred, but feel free to flame yours truly if it helps.

27th Apr 2002, 05:40
I personally have little or no problem with reggie spotters although I cannot fathom out the attraction.

I do, however agree wholeheartedly with the treatment handed down by the Greek Court. They broke the law. The view that they were not collecting sensitive information makes absolutely no difference. The same treatment should have been given to all the Greenham Common rabble.

Oh, and I have lots of other totally non-PC views too. Happy Saturday morning PPRuNers.:p

27th Apr 2002, 05:52
Lock them up. They broke the law. I seem to be disagreeing with almost everybody on this one. Lock up all the other rabble that I dont approve of also. A listing of the above is available on request but includes the Greenham Common rabble, cat-lovers, dole cheats, youths with baseball caps, lager louts and politicians.:)

27th Apr 2002, 06:50
Wouldn't it be more efficient use of resources just to lock Skytrucker 87 up?:D :D :D :D :D

p.s. you forget people who insist on bellowing into their mobile phones at 06:00 in the "Quiet Coaches" on Virgin trains.

27th Apr 2002, 06:57
been there, done that! got banged up in the Lagos slammer for three days and two nights for "attempting to de-stabilise the Nigerian currency.

I agree about mobile phone users. They are hereby added to my ever-growing list.

Bern Oulli
27th Apr 2002, 07:02
Don't tell a soul, but back in the days of steam (and before the film) I actually was a train spotter! Then I became an air traffic controller but it wasn't the same. The scarcity of steam powered aeroplanes was so disappointing!

Bern Oulli
27th Apr 2002, 07:29
"London Ground, Olympic *** request start up for Athens"

"Station calling Ground unreadable, don't try again"

Did you know that Olympic have a frequent flyers club called Icarus? Says it all really.

Tartan Gannet
27th Apr 2002, 08:05
I too cannot see the fun in Plane Spotting, but if that is what turn them on then good luck. Many of us may consider them to be "sad bast*rds" but like Trainspotters they do no harm to anyone else or indeed any animal etc by their activities.

I used to work for a Bus Company many years ago when in the Accounts and Admin side of life. There were a couple of Bus Drivers who assiduously kept a log of the movements and situation of the various buses in the area. e.g. " Fleet Number 045, Leyland Atlantean, with JVC Banner adverts seen operating on 49a route to Southwick...." Big deal, to most of us WGAS, but it kept these men happy and did no harm to anyone else.

I know that many people have a similar viewpoint regarding MY principal leisure activity, The Craft, but as I say, each to their own.

So let us show a bit more tolerance for Plane Spotters and other such people.

27th Apr 2002, 08:42
My views do not reflect a blanket condemnation of plane-spotters, train spotters, Eddie Stobart lorry-spotters or even Acne-spotters. I just think that people who break the laws of a country should be locked up however unjust that law appears to be. If they dont like heat, then stay the hell out of the kitchen. Anyway, if Greece only has a pathetic number of antiquated military aircraft, what was the point of spotting them??

Excuse me, I'm just off to the kebab shop for breakfast. Ya-sous all.

27th Apr 2002, 09:18
Yeah right - so anyone who goes to a public air display and looks at aircraft that are there for everyone to see should be locked up ????

27th Apr 2002, 09:45
ONLY if by doing so the viewer would be breaking the laws of the country in which they happen to be. I reiterate - I have NO PROBLEM with plane spotters!

If you do the crime, then be prepared to do the time.

Just because someone doesnt agree with a law does not render them immune from prosecution.

Kalium Chloride
27th Apr 2002, 09:58
Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men (Douglas Bader)

Ironic that it was a pilot who said it, but I think it applies here. Taking pictures of aeroplanes in a military area is not the same thing as espionage, even if the two have certain common elements.

I was warned off taking photos of aircraft on an air base in the former Soviet Union. Because of secrecy? No, because of national pride. They didn't want me photographing the unwashed jets - only the shiny ones.

If these planespotters broke the law, the Greeks should have looked carefully at which laws were being broken. If the situation genuinely fits their definition of espionage (which I always thought involved transferring secrets to third parties) then fair enough. But I can't believe that spying is the only option open to a Greek prosecutor, anti-Turkish feelings or not. :rolleyes:

27th Apr 2002, 10:52
I am inclined to agree with KC. Maybe 'espionage' was not an appropriate charge. It would have been less controversial if they had been charged with a different offence. However, I still believe that an offence was committed and prosecution was justified. The quote from Douglas Bader is fine but doesn't apply if you get caught!:p

Kermit 180
27th Apr 2002, 11:23
Everyone has to have a hobby of some sort. Plenty of worse things to do out there than aircraft spotting. And it must be cheap too. Grab your anorak, a pad and pen, a dozen beers, some grub and shoot off to the local field for some hard core registration collecting. Not my cup of tea but hey, what ever tickles their fancy. Some of them take some fabulous photo shots too. Sort of collecting data to accompany the piccies no doubt, like a historical record.


27th Apr 2002, 12:18

I am NOT knocking plane spotters.

Kalium Chloride
27th Apr 2002, 15:53
I was kinda suggesting that Bader's quote might apply to the judge :D :D

27th Apr 2002, 16:09
Some years ago I read an article by a shrink which said 'plane spotters are basically frustrated fighter pilots. If they get the number/reg of an aircraft they have "bagged it". There is rivalry as to who can get the most numbers and taken to extremes, rivalry to get numbers in "difficult" conditions which leads them to peek in hangars etc.
The shrink said that they emulated Von Richtofen who used to cut the number from his victims' aircraft where possible to hang in his trophy room. He also had small trophy cups made engraved with the type/date of his kills.
And Michael Schumaker looks very much like him
I digress.
Anybody know what Draper's dog is called?:)

tony draper
27th Apr 2002, 16:22
Fools, doing it for nothin, nice Russian gent uster pay me ter do it. ;)

Jet Dragon
27th Apr 2002, 23:11
Hi all,

Just thought that the Plane-Spotters' point of view should be aired here as well.

Firstly might I say that I do not condone any spotter breaking either the laws of the country they are spotting in, or doing anything that might jeopardise the goodwill of the aviation community towards the humble spotter.

I have been a "spotter" now for over 20 years - sans beard/anorak/beeny etc etc.

I worked for 9 years in the industry (BAe) but have been around aviation all my life with parents/brothers/sisters all having worked at some time in the industry. It was here that my love for aircraft - Note - not just Reggies - germinated.

For me spotting is a way of getting close to aircraft - something that as one not fortunate enough as many of you guys are to be able to afford to learn to fly - wife/kids/mortgage responsibilities have to come first I'm afraid.

But - I would say that there are many like me - often professional people - myself included - who do enjoy mixing with people who fly/maintain or operate aircraft. I'm not what you would call a "wannabe" - I know I'm a "never gonnabe" - but it's really irritating to be classed as one of societys outcasts because I take down aircraft numbers and take copious pictures of planes.

I agree with some of the views expressed in this thread - and I admit to have seen some really sad cases during my time as a spotter - but guys (and gals) we're not all like that. The majority I would say are responsible people.

And please also don't forget that we often do make valuable contributions to recording the history of aviation worldwide - that does not solely come from Press releases from Boeing & Airbus.

A number of enthusiast organisations do publish recognised works that document not only aircraft histories but also those of manufacturers and personalities.

Sorry to carry on a bit but I thought these things needed to be said.




28th Apr 2002, 06:06
Jet Dragon. excellent posting. You put the case for the distinction between airplane enthusiasts and reggie spotters very well. I applaud your comment about law breaking too. I agree that a huge number of truly excellent photographs of aircraft are the result of plane spotting activities and I along with most of us in here appreciate a good aircraft picture.

As I keep saying - its not the plane spotting that is the problem, it's the law-breaking. They took the chance and now they have to pay the penalty.

28th Apr 2002, 11:31
I knew one of those sad anoraks once.

Many moons ago I was sat at the Alpha South hold at LGW, waiting to depart to somewhere. Without warning the skipper whipped out a notebook and jotted the reg down of a Russian type A/c that crossed the threshold. I bit my tongue and we duly lined up and departed.

We finally reached TOC (it was only an old 737-200 A/C with –9 engines) as we settled onto the cruise; I noticed this contrail coming the other way. This time he reached into his nave-bag and pulled out a very expensive pair of stabilized binoculars. He got the tail number and jotted it down. I couldn’t contain myself and during the ensuing questioning he confessed to being an aircraft spotter. During that leg I learned more about aircraft types and the history of aviation than I had learned in my entire life up to that point. He was a veritable mine of information. On the return sector I was the one with the bino’s reading the tail numbers for him because my young eyes were sharper.

Over the next three or four years or so until he retired, he taught me his unwritten technique on flying and operating swept wing jet airplanes. (I was a black art to me then) I still use the same skills today when the wonder jet automatics can’t cope, or the situation changes so rapidly that you have to revert to stick and rudder.

I owe that “anorak” a great deal.

Stan if your still out there and you read this, Thank you.

28th Apr 2002, 23:57
Came across this on another board, I hadn't seen it before. Doesn't seem to quite fit the 'irresponsible nerds' portrait. Of course it may not be accurate either, but FWIW....This message was forwarded onto the mil spotters yahoo group and was sent by one of the British members of the party:

------------BEGIN MESSAGE-------
Allegation: "The group were arrested at Tanagra and warned not to continue".

Fact: The group were not arrested but assisted police/HAF/Intelligence officers with their enquiries (after a Greek civilian mistook use of binoculars for photography). No warning was issued and the group were told "You have done nothing illegal". The authorities apologised for delaying the group. Interestingly, the Greek Ambassador's letter in today's Daily
Mail states that the warning was given by a magistrate. This makes it all the easier to prove false since at no time was any magistrate involved in the check at Tanagra at all.

Allegation: "They were warned three times and still took photographs".

Fact: At the three HAF Open Days attended by the group, guards at the gate informed the group that photography was not permitted (it was permitted last year). As a result, no photographs were taken and cameras remained secured in camera bags within the vehicles. At no point on the trip did ANY
member of the group take ANY photographs at ANY Greek military installation.

Fact: Photographs were taken at Athens War Museum, Mesolongi (museum), Vonitsa (scrap metal dealer - chopped up 1952/53 vintage F-84Fs), Hellenikon (the old Athens civil airport, now superceded by Sparta).

Fact: All photographs (from films confiscated at Tanagra and Kalamata) have been perused by the authorities and have been assessed as having no security implications. Photographs no longer form part of the prosecution case, nor have they since the end of our first week in captivity, despite their being quoted as the basis of the evidence for "espionage" charges (also no longer relevant) as recently as last Wednesday on CNN.

Allegation: "The group were intoxicated when apprehended".

Fact: I was frankly totally amazed to read of this allegation which I was unaware of until my return. The group were apprehended at around 17:00hrs. No alcohol had been consumed by any member of the group on the day in question. Indeed, on the three previous nights no one had indulged in any more than a few social drinks with their evening meal.

Opinion: In my opinion there are only two explanations for this allegation, one would be an an error in translation ("The group were 'interrogated' when apprehended"??) whilst the other is a deliberate and malicious attempt to smear the group.

Allegation: "The group trespassed on Greek military bases".

Fact: No trespass took place whatsoever. The three bases entered by the group were Araxos, Andravidha and Kalamata at which we were admitted to the open days upon production of passports. The trespass issue arose only because the authorities believed that serials at Megara could only have been obtained by trespassing on the base. Aircraft and helicopters at Megara
can be identified from public roads around the airfield using binoculars (and indeed several can be read with the naked eye).

Allegation: "When the investigating officers analysed the logbooks kept by the group, they found those included flight timetables and eavesdropping on conversations between pilots and Air Force ground controllers".

Fact: The scanner inadvertantly taken by one member of the group was at no time switched on in Greece. Therefore no conversations were overheard. Even if they had been, I presume military conversations would have been in Greek, which even after 37 days none of us speak. The first Greek military aircraft
we saw airborne were seen from the courtroom in Kalamata during our first appearance. My own log book (which ended at Heathrow on departure) includes take-off and landing times of those airliners in which I have been a passenger during the last few months.

Fact: The scanner no longer forms part of the evidence against the group.
An expert witness appeared on our behalf at the second court appearance and proved to the interrogating magistrate that scanners could be freely bought over the counter in Greece, were used by numerous Greek radio hobbyists, and that Greece was party to (though had not yet ratified) an EU law legalising the use of scanners.

Other relevant facts are:-

This was the third occasion on which Touchdown had visited Greece. Previous visits in 1998 and 2000 went off without a hitch. Photography was permitted at most bases in 2000 (the situation being checked and double checked at each base).

The Hellenic AF had been informed in writing of the group's intention to visit as many bases as possible during the HAF open days (8th-11th November 2001). Despite this I have seen reference to Touchdown being invited to one Open Day and unilaterally extending the invite to include the rest. This
allegation is false.

Foreign nationals are (in recent years) permitted to attend these open days without prior permission. Written authority to visit was sought and obtained by Touchdown as a 'belt and braces' to prevent any misunderstandings (in which respect it was obviously unsuccessful). The Hellenic AF was in possession of names, passport numbers, dates of birth, and occupations of
all members of the group and approval had been given at Brigadier General level for Touchdown to attend the open days. The group were sensitive to the post September 11th situation.

The Hellenic AF were contacted by fax and by telephone in the final days before the trip in the expectation that it would be cancelled. The response was reassuring and encouraged Touchdown to go ahead as planned. If there was a problem due to increased security, these communications would have been the ideal opportunity to close the trip down to the satisfaction of all concerned (both the Greeks and the group).

The group were detained "for taking photographs" whilst attempting to leave Kalamata base following their visit to the open day. As pointed out above, no photographs were taken by any of the group at any Greek military base at any time during the trip.
-----END MESSAGE----------------

29th Apr 2002, 08:43
Can vouch for the integrity of that posting, PaperTiger; the author is a personal friend of 30 years, and it was his wife who called me on November 11th to ask for assistance when they were originally detained. I first got to know him when my father was Station Commander at an RAF base up north, and he was always a welcome guest at our house then and now.

The group thought that they were obeying the rules, and still are of that opinion. No photographs were taken at airbases, and the HAF were aware of the itinerary of the tour, including bases which were later declared to be secret, like Megara, which has a three foot wooden fence separating it from the local go-kart track.

Unfortunately, the officer who had them arrested is either unable or unwilling to accept the misunderstanding that has taken place, and the original charge, having been diluted from espionage to 'collecting secret information' was then elevated to espionage again - how on earth did that happen???

On a positive note, there is more support this time round, when this was raised on pprune at the end of last year the post had to be closed because of general mud-slinging; this time there's been plenty of reasoned debate, leading to a better understanding all round.

I'm sorry for all parties that it's come this far, everyone involved has been harmed in one way or another.

30th Apr 2002, 14:22
From today's Hull Daily Mail..........

Swanland: The East Yorkshire man found guilty of aiding and abetting spies by a Greek court is set to refuse an offer to have his conviction quashed in a show of solidarity with his fellow plane spotters.

When the controversial ruling was announced amid chaotic scenes on Friday, the presiding judge Fotoula Fotopoulou revealed that Mike Bursell, and five of the 12 Britons on trial facing a one-year suspended prison sentence, could have their convictions erased if they paid 4.4 euros to the court for each day of their sentence - about £1,000.

Details of the offer were not immediately clear when the six were found guilty of aiding and abetting the rest of the group, who were convicted of spying and given three-year suspended jail terms.

All 12 lodged an immediate appeal against their convictions and were allowed to return to England to prepare their response.

But Mr Bursell, 47, of Mill Rise, Swanland, said he would decline the offer because he wanted his innocence proved in court and did not want to jeopardise the appeal of the six found guilty of spying.

The deal does not apply to those convicted of the more serious charge.

He said: "It's superficially attractive, but in effect you are saying 'it's a fair cop'. I think we have got to continue to fight it.

"If we did go down that route it would potentially weaken the case for the others."

Mr Bursell said the group's combined legal costs had reached £100,000 and they were considering an appeal fund to contest their convictions.