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British couple thrown in Kos jail for photographing army dinghies

A British couple was reportedly thrown in jail and accused of spying after photographing  army dinghies while on holiday on the island of Kos in the Eastern Aegean Sea. The British tourists, a couple at its mid-50’s, were handcuffed and spent a night in a “cockroach-infected cell.” Pamela and Michael Cleary complained to UK media about the nightmarish conditions in “boiling hot” jail cell “without food and water” and said they had to appear in court without lawyer or interpreter.

According to Daily Mail that revealed the story on Friday, July 20th:

Pamela and Michael Cleary, who have eight grandchildren, were handcuffed and spent a night in a cockroach-infested cell without food or water.

Mr Cleary’s offence was to take pictures on his mobile phone of two army dinghies in a port on the island of Kos.

The 55-year-old was accosted by a soldier who ordered him to delete the images and demanded to see his passport. And when the couple tried to fly home they were arrested and taken into custody for interrogation on spying charges.

Mrs Cleary said: ‘I’m nearly 60 years old and have never had so much as a parking ticket, so when they told us we were being charged with spying and espionage I just lost it. I was hysterical.

‘Mike took the photographs because he has an interest in the military. We tried to explain this to the police. I kept saying, “We are just tourists, this is a mistake”.

‘We were handcuffed together like two criminals and driven off in a police car. They took us to a police station. It was a really dingy, scruffy place.

‘There was only one cell and we could see mosquitos everywhere. There was a tiny window and it was boiling hot. All I can remember is Mike shaking cockroaches off me. He was heartbroken, saying, “I took the picture, you shouldn’t be here, I’ve put you through this”. It was awful.’

The following morning the couple were transported to the courthouse in Kos for a hearing in front of a magistrate, but were not given access to a lawyer or an interpreter.

Mrs Cleary, a mother of four who has been married to her husband, a warehouse operative, for 22 years, added: ‘It’s destroyed us and it’s all been for nothing’

‘The soldier got up and told his story, we didn’t have a clue what he was saying,’ Mrs Cleary said.

‘Mike tried to explain that he didn’t know taking the pictures was illegal.

‘Then the magistrate came back and said there would be a hearing in July and that was that.

‘She said you can go home and get a lawyer in England, but we had to leave our phones behind.’ The couple returned to the UK and instructed a Greek lawyer but the case was dropped two weeks later. Their mobile phones were also returned.

The incident took place when the couple decided to break their journey to the airport and stopped at Mastichari, a village with a port on the northern coast of Kos.

Mrs Cleary, a mother of four who has been married to her husband, a warehouse operative, for 22 years, added: ‘It’s destroyed us and it’s all been for nothing.’

‘We’re both under the doctor for post-traumatic stress. I’m taking sleeping tablets.

‘We both feel numb. We just can’t stop thinking about what could have happened.’

The couple have also lodged a complaint with the British consulate and claim they were offered very little support while they were detained.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told Daily Mail on Friday: ‘Our staff supported two British people following their detention and subsequent release in Kos earlier this year.

‘We provided a list of local lawyers, passed on messages from their family, and have raised their concerns about their case with the Greek authorities.’

It is not mentioned when exactly the incident happened and so far there is nothing on Greek internet about the case.

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2 comments

  1. It is worth mentioning that the Daily Mail is not noted for it’s balanced reporting. It is a right-wing sensationalist newspaper that is known to be ‘economical with the facts’. I have personal experience of them making stuff up in a story about the death of my nephew in Greece some years ago, they invented ‘facts’ to fit the sensationalist story they wanted to write. There may be some truth in the story here but it is absolutely certain that the Daily Mail will have placed the most sensationalist spin on it that they can think of.

  2. This was on TV about 4-5 days ago both SKAI and ERT showed this..