Two Imprisoned ArmA Devs Speak
The two employees of Bohemia Interactive who were arrested on spying charges last week have spoken from the Greek prison where they’re currently being detained. According to a post on Eurogamer today, the two Czech employees, Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta, are currently being held in Mytilene, the capital of Greece’s island of Lesbos.
The pair released a statement:
“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.
We mainly think of you, our families; you have to stay calm and not to worry about us. We hope we will meet soon.”
Bohemia Interactive spokesperson Ota Vrtatko says that the two were visiting Greece as tourists, and that the video footage and photos they took were simply to be keepsakes of their vacation:
“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.
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.”
When news of the pair’s arrest broke last week, it was theorized that they were on a research trip, looking to get footage and photos of the military bases on Limnos, a location that’s said to be featured in the in-development Arma 3. Vratko says this isn’t true, and that the base featured in the game isn’t based on the real base:
“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 percent of the real island, and it does not attempt to display any real world military installations situated on the island.
To summarize the situation: They visited Lemnos on their holiday as tourists. They did not enter any military area. They did not take any pictures of any military objects to be used in Arma 3.”
Speaking personally, even if the two were, in fact, taking pictures for their video game, I don’t think it would still warrant an arrest with a charge of spying. “Spying” implies that intelligence is being gathered for an enemy state, not for entertainment. I can see a warning, a fine, a stern letter—any number of reactions to two civilians acting in ways that aren’t appropriate. But an arrest like this certainly seems—to me—to be on the extreme side.
Of course, since we haven’t had much information from Greece itself on the arrests, it’s impossible to know the exact motivations and justifications of the arrests. It’s entirely likely that Greece knows plenty more than they’re willing to discuss right now. We’ll update this story as more details come out.