Arrested Bohemia developers released from prison

ArmA 3 developers still face trial after being charged for espionage


The two Bohemia Interactive developers imprisoned in Greece for some 128 days have been released on bail and are free to return to their homes in the Czech Republic.

Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar were arrested in September on suspicion of espionage. They still face trial for allegedly spying on sensitive Greek military installations while on holiday.

Bohemia Interactive producer Dean Hall confirmed their release in a message to his followers on Twitter.

The arrest of Butcha and Pezlar appeared to have triggered diplomatic tensions between Greece and the Czech Republic.

Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, asked Greece state officials in November to place "special attention" on the arrest and trial of the pair.

In a letter to Greek president Karolos Papoulias, Klaus said "this case is very sensitive to the Czech public and also to me as President of the Republic".

"The fate of our citizens anywhere in the world matters to us," he added.

It emerged in September that Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar - two Czech developers working on the military FPS game ArmA 3 - were arrested near their hotel while touring Greece.

State officials accused the pair of espionage, initially alleging that they had taken detailed photos of a military installation.

Buchta and Pezlar face up to 20 years in prison for charges of spying, which they deny. They were held in a prison on a Greek island for more than 120 days and were recently denied an appeal against their charges.

It is believed that Bohemia's military game ArmA 3 is set on Lemnos, the same island where Buchta and Pezlar were arrested. While authorities charged the pair for allegedly taking sensitive pictures of a military instillation, their lawyer claims the duo were on holiday.
A website dedicated to the detained pair was set up to support the two.

'Previous run-ins'

A developer at Bohemia Interactive recently told CVG that the Czech studio has previously had run-ins with the mayor of Lemnos, Antonis Hatzidiamantis.

"In the past the mayor was vocal about us using maps and how it is strategically problematic because Greece has NATO's second-largest army [Turkey's] next door to them," said Jan Kunt.

He claimed that the maps which Bohemia had obtained were publicly available information.

"You can buy it yourselves. The Turkish army can buy it. It's not military-grade intel. It's really nothing more than Google Maps."

Greek authorities have a reputation for being sensitive to matters related to the country's military operations.

In 2001, a group of 12 Britons and two Dutch plane-spotters were found guilty of "spy charges" at a Greek court.

One year later, eight were found guilty of espionage and sentenced to three years in jail. The other six were convicted of aiding and abetting and received a one-year suspended sentence.

The following year, thirteen of the 14 plane-spotters had their convictions overturned. The Home Office, at the time, had apologised for not intervening.