Member of the EU,

Regarding the false imprisonment of Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar on charges of espionage.

I am writing on behalf of Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar, two Czech nationals who were on vacation in Greece, where they were arrested and are now detained under charges of espionage. They were arrested under a local law stating that it is prohibited to photograph or film military installations or materials. They have been held at the Prison on Chios for six weeks and counting. Because of a national public workers’ strike which includes judges and ‘legal system apparatus’ they are being held without a hearing since the arrest, so these men are currently unable to get a trial to prove their innocence.

The evidence against Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar are a combined total of 14 frames of full motion video, as stated by their lawyer, Panagiotis Eleftherioy. The vacationers cut their video off immediately when they saw a sign prohibiting filming. One would imagine that a few images from footage of a public airport would have questionable intelligence value, and airports must not be uncommon among places captured on film by tourists. There is, however, another matter that these men are game developers who worked on a project that takes place in a world based on Limnos. For their game, they recreated a place they loved. The two developers love the place so much they returned there for their vacation. Upon their return, they were arrested. Based on these facts, I am concerned that Ivan and Martin’s incarceration is unfounded, unjust, and malicious. It is my hope that you, as an representative of the European Union, a lawful society, will speak out against this injustice.

The charges against them are false. At the time of their arrest, Greek officials confiscated all electronic devices and photographic equipment, and found only 14 frames of ‘questionable’ material. Even these frames were filmed, with the rest of the confiscated footage, in an area open to the public - anyone can see what they filmed at any time. Most of the material that was seized are benign photographs of the landscape and plant life of the island. As was stated before, the photographers ceased filming when they saw a sign forbidding it.

Besides being arrested and detained on false charges, they are being held unjustly. They have been held without hope of a hearing because civil servants and judges are now on strike. They have been held for 4 weeks without any hope of a hearing, or any means to defend themselves against the charges levelled against them. The prison they are being held in is a holding facility for illegal immigrants and doesn’t seem to be made for long term imprisonment. From their letters, the men indicate that there are many people in their cell - more than the cell was meant to hold. They have to sleep on the ground on mattresses and take turns sleeping on a bunk bed (*2). Long term imprisonment in overcrowded holding cells is inhuman, and is a disgraceful affront to the concept that men are considered innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, they are no longer being held as a result of their actions in accordance with Greek law, but as a result of the unstable situation in the country.

Even if the state decided to proceed to indict the two men based on the very weak evidence, the charges of espionage are totally out of proportion to the situation, and are malicious in nature. On September 26th, 2011, the government of Limnos made headlines when they issued a press statement that expressed moral outrage that their island would be used as the basis for the setting of a war game, and vowed that they would defend the reputation of the island by legal means (*4 *1). They also expressed much anxiety about the apparent security risk the videogame represented. Since those initial concerns were raised, the greek government reviewed a pre-release version of the game and found that it presented no such security threat (*3). In spite of this, it looks like the authorities on Limnos made good on their threat: to use legal means to avenge a perceived slight against their reputation.

Given that these men are being detained for unfounded, unjust, and malicious reasons, we ask that you please speak out against the imprisonment of Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar. The false charges of espionage, their lengthy imprisonment without hope of a trial, and the malicious circumstances surrounding their arrest are each, on their own, things that no one should have to endure in a just society. The dire circumstances in Greece produced a situation that is well beneath the spirit of unity and justice of the European Union. Please help us try to get these men home and end their inhuman imprisonment.

Best Regards,

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