Sunday, 20 April 2014

Czech computer game developers arrested in Greece released on bail

16 January 2013

Prague, Jan 15 (CTK) - The two Czech computer games specialists who have been jailed in Greece since last September on suspicion of espionage will be released on bail and allowed to return to the Czech Republic, the Czech Foreign Ministry and the Government Office told CTK yesterday.

Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta, employees of a software firm, are suspected of having taken photographs for a new game in the sensitive region along the Turkish border.

It was spoken about a punishment of up to 20 years in prison after their detention. The criminal prosecution will continue even after their return home.

"Based on repeated negotiations, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras informed Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas by phone about the release of two Czechs whom the Greek police detained on Lemnos Island. They were allegedly taking photographs of military installations on Lemnos Island," Schuster said.

"The justification of the (Greek) decision does not indicate that they would have threatened Greece's national security, according to the detained persons' defence lawyer. This justification is of a great importance for the benefit of both detained in the court proceedings that will be held in the future," the Foreign Ministry's press department said.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told journalists yesterday that a very intensive effort by Czech diplomacy is behind the two Czechs' release. He said the Czech embassy in Greece also took part in the negotiations.

According to the ministry's press department, the bail is 5000 euros for each man.

The men are employees of Bohemia Interactive that develops computer games.

According to previous media information, the Greek police said they were taking photographs on Lemnos for a new game.

The firm, however, dismissed the information that its employees were in Greece on business and they, too, said later they were on a private holiday in Greece, taking photographs as tourists.

A similar case was in the limelight in October 2011 when three Czechs were arrested on suspicion of spying in Zambia.

According to Zambian authorities, they were taking photographs of entries to barracks and a Zambian air base, for which they faced up to 30 years in prison.

They were released on bail after a week, but were banned from leaving the country and had to regularly report themselves with the police.

At the end of December 2011, the three Czechs who dismissed all accusations, secretly returned to the Czech Republic and Zambia issued a warrant for their arrest.

Last April, the criminal proceeding against them were stopped in Zambia.

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