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04 December, 2001
A Greek foreign ministry delegation on Monday visited 14 British and Dutch aviation enthusiasts being held in Korydallos and Nafplion prisons on espionage charges after photographing military installations last month, which is strictly forbidden by law in Greece.
Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that a delegation including the ministry's Development Cooperation department general director Alexandros Rondos and the director of foreign deputy minister Yannis Magriotis' diplomatic office Ms. Athanasiadou had visited the 12 Britons, including one woman, and two Dutchmen in prison in Korydallos and Nafplio.
The 14 have said they were on a "plane-spotting" vacation when arrested on November 8 outside a military airbase near Kalamata, southwestern Greece. The group had also been briefly detained three days earlier at an airbase north of Athens, again for photographing military facilities.
The visit was made in the framework of the Greek foreign ministry's handling of the case given that the issue has attracted political attention in Britain and was being given wide coverage in the British press, Beglitis said.
He said the delegation ascertained the "good conditions" of the "European citizens' incarceration", and expressed hope for a speedy and positive conclusion of the case.
Beglitis explained that the foreign ministry was involved in the issue "to the degree that it concerns Greek-British bilateral relations", but with all due respect to the independent role of the country's justice system.
The case was also discussed, inter alia, during a recent telephone conversation between foreign minister George Papandreou and British counterpart Jack Straw.
Responding to criticism from a UK paper, government spokes-man Christos Protopappas defended the government's policy on this issue and said it could not interfere with the work of Greek justice.
Source: Athens News Agency