By John Walker on September 17th, 2012 at 11:00 am.
Update: We’ve just had it confirmed from Bohemia that the pair have been accused of “espionage”, and according to Greek investigators, “they had in their possession materials that may endanger the national security of Greece.”
Original: It seems that much has been invented when it comes to the news about Bohemia‘s employees arrested in Limnos, Greece. For one, the studio is saying the two were absolutely not in the country researching the game. In a statement intended to clear up a lot of the miscommunication that abounds, the Czech developers of the ArmA series make it abundantly clear that the arrested pair were only in the country as tourists.
Rather than heading to Greece as research for ArmA III, as many first assumed, instead the pair were there on holiday say Bohemia, inspired to visit by having developed the game. Bohemia representatives visited Greece and the employees currently being detained, as well as spoke to lawyers involved. They say in their statement that far from photographing military bases,
“They took photographs and videos in public areas, as countless tourists arriving to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Greece may well do. These included a short video as they drove through the main road passing around the international airport, where in one short part of the video off in the distance some hangars and other buildings of the complex can be seen. It’s very likely that many tourists may have pictures similar to those taken by Ivan and Martin in their own family albums, without being aware that they put themselves or their families at risk.”
The company goes on to state that the in-game version of Limnos is close to completion, and as such they aren’t in need of any illicit footage captured from the country. They also state that it’s “far from an identical replication of the real place,” pointing out that their game is set in 2035. So unless the pair were also time-travelling, it’s unlikely they were on a reconnaissance mission.
The two employees, Martin and Ivan, relayed the following message to friends and family:
“The conditions are tough, but the people we meet treat us fairly and correctly. It is all a completely absurd misunderstanding that will certainly be quickly explained. We mainly think of you, our families; you have to stay calm and not to worry about us. We hope we will meet soon.”
It’s very hard not to think of the ludicrous case where two Dutch and twelve British plane-spotters were arrested in Greece in 2001 on spy charges, for taking photographs of aeroplanes, and “acting suspiciously” at a public airshow. Astonishingly, they were found guilty in a Greek court. Fortunately this was overturned on appeal, but not before they’d spent a month in jail, and many months in court.
Bohemia are currently pledging all possible efforts toward supporting the two detainees, and their families. They add that “any form of support for our imprisoned colleagues and friends will be more than welcome.”
Frankly, if Greece believes photographing things in public view constitutes endangering their national security, they probably ought to hide stuff better.