The two Bohemia Interactive developers arrested in Greece last week have relayed a message to their families.
The pair are currently being detained in Mytilene on charges of espionage.
“The conditions are tough, but the people we meet treat us fairly and correctly. It is all a completely absurd misunderstanding that will certainly be quickly explained,” they wrote.
“We mainly think of you, our families; you have to stay calm and not to worry about us. We hope we will meet soon.”
A group of a dozen British tourists and two from Holland were arrested in similar circumstances in 2001. They were held for six months before being released on £9000 bail. Eight of the 12 were then found guilty of espionage and sentenced to three years in jail, with the remaining six receiving one-year suspended sentences. The convictions were overturned the following year.
ArmA 3 developer Bohemia Interactive has also released a statement regarding the charges:
“Having travelled there, and after meeting personally with them both, as well as their lawyer who is fully acquainted with the Greek authority’s investigation file in detail, we can assure you that these insinuations are completely false and without substance.
“These employees – our friends, Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar – visited the island as tourists. Their holiday was a product of their interest in the island, triggered by their work on Arma 3 over the past two years of development.
“They took photographs and videos in public areas, as countless tourists arriving to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Greece may well do. These included a short video as they drove through the main road passing around the international airport, where in one short part of the video off in the distance some hangars and other buildings of the complex can be seen. It’s very likely that many tourists may have pictures similar to those taken by Ivan and Martin in their own family albums, without being aware that they put themselves or their families at risk.
“We sincerely hope that the whole situation is no more than an unfortunate and deep misunderstanding. The in-game Limnos is close to completion, and it’s far from an identical replication of the real place. It was heavily modified to fit the game’s backstory, a purely fictional 2035 setting. It was rescaled to only 75% of the real island, and it does not attempt to display any real world military installations situated on the island of Lemnos.”
It has also surfaced that a Greek gamer warned Bohemia Interactive about photographing the base, six weeks before the developers were arrested.
“On the island of Limnos is a military air base. It is illegal to take photographs of this base, yet the ARMA development team are creating a 3D model of the base, most likely based on photos which they took illegally,” Cyplon wrote in a now-deleted thread on Bohemia’s forums.
“Had this been an American base, or any other country with a large population of whom may purchase ARMA 3, it is likely that such an act would not have been performed due to the risk of the country banning the game from being sold there. Hence, I find it disrespectful to do so.”
“At the very least, the ARMA team should modify the base so that it is not an accurate representation of the existing base. All this time the ARMA series has been based on fictional locations, but now have chosen to create a game on a real location.
“Of all locations in the World, Limnos - one of the only islands in the Aegean with a military air base, is being replicated, regardless of the tensions between Greece and Turkey which are ongoing.
“I'm sure some of you may argue that if it were this easy for the developers to obtain such details of the base then it would be of no difficulty for Turkey. True, I doubt that the base has anything top secret anyway. However, you aren't just providing a 3D model, but also a matured military simulator from which Turkey may practice infiltrations of the base.”