Plane-spotters win bail in Greece

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Series Details Vol.7, No.46, 13.12.01, p4
Publication Date 13/12/2001
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Date: 13/12/01

THE European plane-spotters held in Greece on spying charges were yesterday (12 December) looking forward to their first day of freedom for five weeks after being bailed.

Three judges in the southern town of Kalamata yesterday decided to release the group on bail and they will be free to return home after depositing bail of about €14,500 each.

The 14 aviation enthusiasts - 12 Britons and two Dutchmen - have been told they must return to court to face reduced charges at a later date. The group was arrested on 8 November after attending an air show. Their families and supporters had always insisted that the plane-spotters were just enjoying an innocent hobby.

After learning of the court's decision, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "I was greatly relieved to hear this news but we will now have to work hard to ensure that this judicial decision does mean the speedy release from custody of all those being held".

Liberal MEP Sarah Ludford, who has campaigned for their release, said: "There is no doubt that at least some of these people should have been released without charge immediately. It also worries me that asking each family to find all this money for bail is a lot."

Earlier, the president of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine, had written a strong letter to the Greek government, criticising its handling of the case and urging it to respect the European Convention of Human Rights.

The European plane-spotters held in Greece on spying charges are due to be released on bail, 12 December 2001.

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