Late last year, two employees of Bohemia Interactive, the studio behind the ArmA series of games, were arrested and jailed in Greece on espionage charges—charges that the pair, Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar, absolutely deny. Today, Reports came out that the two have finally been released on €5000 bail each after being imprisoned for nearly 130 days. Previous attempts to post bail were denied by the Greek government.
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. Upon their arrest, Bohemia Interactive released the following statement:
“We can confirm that two Bohemia Interactive employees, our colleagues and friends, were arrested during their holiday trip to Lemnos. They visited the island with the sole purpose of experiencing the island’s beautiful surroundings.
Since its establishment in 1999, Bohemia Interactive has created games based only upon publicly available information. We always respect the law and we’ve never instructed anybody to violate the laws of any country. The same is true for Arma 3.
Currently, all our effort goes towards supporting the guys over there, as well as their friends and families affected by this difficult situation. We sincerely hope that this is an unfortunate misunderstanding of their passion as artists and creators of virtual worlds.”
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.
Now that they have been released on bail, Dean Hall, the creator of ArmA-based game DayZ, and a colleague of Buchta and Pezlar, offered this comment on the pair’s release:
“It’s really fantastic news, I've only just found out so I’m still in a little bit of shock. It is a huge relief, both personally and professionally.
Without Ivan, DayZ never would have come out; he was the guy that pushed for me to be bought over from New Zealand to work on ArmA 3, which is where I learned some of the engine interior I needed to make DayZ a success. He was the guy who was at the airport to meet me when I arrived, always smiling always cheerful. He was the guy who came to pick me up at the airport when the ‘weight’ of the success of DayZ had hit me while I was at E3.
Not having him around, and knowing that he was in prison, has really left a big hole that has been impossible to fill emotionally. If you haven’t met Ivan before, you really can’t meet a more positive, strong and wonderful person to work with. Martin is also a really wonderful guy to work with, it’s going to be very emotional for everyone when they are home.”
The espionage charges against the duo came from a tour Pezlar and Buchta took of the military installation on the island of Lemnos. It’s been pointed out that the installation will appear in the forthcoming ArmA game, but Bohemia Interactive has said that the installation depicted in the game is totally fictional. The company maintains that the pair were touring Lemnos on vacation, having become interested in the site after they had worked on the game. In addition, the photos they’d taken were no different than any the other tourists with them had taken, said the studio.
Unfortunatly, the story doesn't end with their bail. Court proceedings will continue, but there's currently no timeline since Greek judges are currently on strike. We support Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar and feel that the way they are being treated is completely unjustified and unreasonable.