OPINION

Opinion

. ..Even if we assume that all 14 plane-spotters held in prison in Greece on suspicion of spying were exclusively motivated by their hobby, it remains a fact that they consciously violated the law as they had been warned by Greek authorities not to photograph military bases. In spite of this, London has expressed its indignation over their arrest and has put pressure on Athens to release the detainees. The British government has also adopted this offensive behavior. Referring to Greece, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Denis MacShane on Monday said, We are very, very angry. It is needless to say that had the roles been reversed, the Greek government would have never intervened or asked for leniency. But even if Athens had attempted to do this behind the scenes it would have been in vain. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, however, not only responded to British pressure but even rushed, in a rather artless fashion, to influence the tribunal. He even reached the point of saying that there is not much to hide from our allies… Plane-spotters are not NATO officers and nothing can exclude the possibility that some of them may work for Turkish intelligence. If the government deems that photographing our air bases is not a threat to national security it should abolish the corresponding ban. Until then, however, the existing law is in place and any violation entails penalties… It is hard to conclude that this is more than a new opportunistic and tactical maneuver. The progress of negotiations will confirm or defeat this view. For this reason, the government has to avoid – unlike yesterday – all overly optimistic comments, which when refuted, convey a negative impression not only about government handling but also about the progress in Greece’s national issues.