Plane-spotters in Greece convicted

Last year, 14 plane-spotters were arrested in Greece under the suspicion of spying. Wednesday April 24, 2002 the trial started against these plane-spotters.

Yesterday (Thursday) the actua trial started at 9 am local time and many experts were heard. Experts in the field of aviation, communication and various other fields of expertise. As of the beginning of this whole affair it was clear that plane-spotting as a hobby is not very much known to Greek people (at least it wasn’t for the authorities), although there are many aviation magazines sold in Greece.

After the questions by the Greek lawyer to the Squadron Leader who was responsible for the arrest, it was clear that the arrest was based on the simple assumption that because he did not know the hobby plane-spotting and thus could not understand why people would take down numbers of planes found there in public on an open day organised by the Greek air force.

There was no real evidence that the plane-spotters are spies, no special equipment was found, no pictures were found (because non were taken) and the information found in the notepads can be found everywhere on the internet and in various magazines. Legal dispositions from witnesses of the prosecutor contradict each other, which in normal court sessions would atleast make one of the declarations less credible and makes you doubt about both declarations.

Although the Greek people are commonly known for their hospitality and the history of Greece where democracy once originated, it is very hard to believe that justice has been done here. The British MEP Richard Howitt stated that it appears that the court had their decision ready even before this trial began. That is is all about Greek nationalism and the Greek authorities afraid of losing face.

I am very personally involved in this matter because one of my closest friends is one of the plane-spotters sentenced to three year prison term. I try my best to be objective about this, but I cannot believe that this would happen in any other EU country, that any other EU court would have disregarded all the statements given by various experts and took into consideration the various cultural differences (plane-spotting being very common in the UK and Netherlands)

I sincerely hope that this decision will be overturned in the appeal. But whatever happens, these plane-spotters, and espcially my friend of course, can count on my support, hopefully they can also count on yours. For more information you can visit

In closing, please respect each other’s opinions and remember that it is not the Greek people who are to blame for this, it is the Greek authorities. Furthermore, I used Greece/Greek instead of Hellenic Republic/Hellenic because it is more commonly known, please let us not get into that discussion again.

Jeez, poor peeps.

I’m afraid I’m a bit greek here, what exactly is plane-spotting? :confused:

Originally posted by Airhead
I’m afraid I’m a bit greek here, what exactly is plane-spotting? :confused:

Plane-spotters go out and spot planes.
Certain plane-spotters prefer military aircrafts, others prefer civil aircrafts. They usually do this at airshows that are open to the public or stand at the edge of an airfield behind the fence.

When they have found a plne which they have not spotted before, they write down the number of the plane (this is a unique code that identifies the plane, perhaps best compared with a license plate) in a notepad, along with the place where it was spotted. Their greatest kick is when they have spotted all planes that are out there.

To know whether or not they have spotted all planes, they use a book where all planes from all airforces (or civil airlines) are listed. They then mark the planes they have spotted and try to have all planes listed in that book marked.

It perhaps sounds strange, but it is a hobby. It is no different from people who collect stamps or spent a lot of time on forums like this (which I still have a hard time explaining to some people).

So all they do is note down the identification number of the plane spotted and where it was spotted for personal use, to keep a record of which planes they already spotted and which not.

I personally could imagine they are charged with espionage when found in the cockpit of such a plane and photograph all the technology found there, or when they are found in the production plants when photographing contruction plans. But these plane-spotters did not even photograph one plane when in Greece (this was confirmed by a judge back in December already), all they did was write down the numbers of the planes they saw out there in the open…

In both the UK as well as in the Netherlands, this verdict was received with disbelief and everybody was stunned with the outcome…

Originally posted by Da_Taxman
In both the UK as well as in the Netherlands, this verdict was received with disbelief and everybody was stunned with the outcome…

I couldn’t believe it either… :frowning:

Thanks for clarifying Tax.
How could they sentence somebody for watching planes???
Totally absurd! :Z

pride is such a wonderfull thing.
i hold it right up there with greed, lust and gluttony.

shame on greek govt,

What I have read about it it seems this was a pre-made decision by the court. The judges seem to have their judgement made before the actual trial even started.

When you consider the following you might understand how outrageous this verdict really is:

The plane-spotters were convicted for having information that is readily available all over the internet. But because they had thatinformation written down in their little notebooks, they are considered spies.

Now here is where the weird and at the same time scary part kicks in. I can find this same information on Internet as well. This would mean that in the eyes of the Greek authorities I am as guilty as they are.

This combined with the international arrest warrant that becomes effective in the near future within the European Union, they can have me extradicted from the Netherlands to Greece any time after this warrant becomes effective.

This would mean that everybody who has this publicly available information written down (or any other hardcopy), regardless the use of this information, might be eligible for a three year prison sentence in Greece.

To make things even worse. The woman (Leslie Coppin) who sat in the bus during the whole event, doing cross-word puzzles, is convicting for aiding and abetting, providing psychological support to these plane spotters. For being there with her husband, providing so-called psychological support, she was sentenced to 1 year in a Greek prison cell.

Now consider this, anyone who showed support to these plane-spotters (because of a personal relationship for example), might now face a one-year prison term. Remember the arrest warrant mentioned above, this means that I can be arrested as well for showing my support on this forum…

As you can see, this is totally ridiculous and outrageous. What has become of the Greek judicial system? How can anyone take the Greek judicial system seriously after this?

I sincerely hope that the politicians can talk some sense into these people over in Greece, because this doesn’t make sense and only strains the relationship between Greece and other EU countries (how did Greece ever become an EU member, considering the above. This is a question I heard from many people after this so-called trial)

Thumbs up to the plane-spotters, hang in there!

I have been monitoring this on the news, and how they can come up with a charge of Espionage is beyond me. Is this a real world we live in, or just a figment of our imagination? We get Train Spotters in the UK :frowning: and they don’t go to jail based on allegidly spying for another country! What year do the greeks think it is?
hmm 18th Century? This is modern day, all sorts of peeps go up in whats classed as light aircraft and cruise about. Christ I stop and look at some classic cars, even look through the window at the interior, maybe the greeks would class this as Espionage as well :(. I just hope someone in the home office can come too their rescue :wink:

We can only hope that this mess will be sorted out, and the victims well compensated. :smiley:

Greetz got all Fellow Members from The Diplomat :smiley:

The war rages on but there is only one who will rise from the very ashes like the lengendry phoenix :slight_smile:

I was wondering about this Tax, and what was going to happen
I remember all the posts about the plane spotting. It seems like a harmless hobby and they shoould nt time for looking at planes and writing the numbers down.

Tax, I am sorry about your friend.

I remember in the early 90s an Australian woman and her daughter were arrested and thrown into jail in Greece because they were “smuggling” Panadol (headache tablet available from supermarket) in to the country. (Was tempted to leave out the o in country). Well I have just decided no more souvalaki me and my family and I shall NEVER visit Greece, too bloody risky!

Is there an email address where support can be shown these “dangerous, cunning criminal spies”?

It is a harmless hobby.
In the Netherlands (and UK too I believe) there are special designated areas for plane-spotters. These are special places from where the plane-spotters can watch planes land and take off and jot down the numbers.

When you consider Smart@$$'s story, I should really worry when it comes to aiding and abetting, since I update (and created) the site about this whole affair.

Through another friend of mine we have sent an email to members of the Dutch parliament (it rulez to have connections in politics :wink: ) and hopefully something will come out of this, because what happened here is not somethig I would call justice anymore.

But before I pass my final judgement I would like to see the motivation of the court on why they have dismissed all the evidence and hung so much on the prosecutor’s line of reasoning (can’t call it evidence, because there simply was none)

you got it spot on Da-Taxman, from what I have read it would indeed apear that the High court has decided their fate before their story was heard. They have had their civil liberties taken away, this doesn’t happen in any other country from what I am aware of, I could be wrong, but I very much doubt it.

I just hope that the Greeks for what they are worth will realise their serious act of gross misconduct, and let them go. If they carry on with this act of stupid behaviour then I would imagine Britain will do what it can too prove the Judge was not fit as were the jurors too make a decision before hearing the story. I thinks the greeks are way out of their league now, and I will never visit Greece ever.

I think Greece should be tried for this stupid act of childish behaviour:rolleyes: