Arma 3 developers Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar have been denied an appeal against charges of espionage, as well as the ability to post bail. They face up to 20 years in jail if convicted. The pair was taking video footage of the island of Lemnos, where the game’s campaign mode takes place, when they were arrested and charged under Greece’s espionage laws. They have already been detained over seventy days due to ongoing strikes within Greece’s legal system over effects of austerity measures on government workers because of the country’s ongoing economic troubles.
Buchta and Pezlar were staffers for the Czech based Bohemia Interactive, developers of the Arma series. The military shooters, known for their realism and use of a game engine sometimes leased to real military organizations for training, often use real military assets during the development process. In comments made by Bohemia, the footage only contains far off images of the military complex, and was filmed from a public road. They also have stressed that the two were not doing research for the game, and were simply on holiday and decided to visit the island inspired by their work.
Currently housed in facilities located in the Greek town of Mytilene, the accused and their families were initially optimistic that they would be released once they had a chance to explain this “completely absurd misunderstanding”. The pair has been adamantly vocal about the tough conditions of their detainment, however. Buctha’s father has claimed that they are “in a cell with over 25 people”, and “sleep on the ground”. During a recent statement, Buctha’s mother said that they were “too optimistic” and put too much faith in the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She also has said that “They no longer tell us that it’s alright… After this judicial decision we have heard from Martin and Ivan something that no parent wants to hear. During the phone call, they basically told us one thing: ‘Mom, Dad, please save us’.”
At the time of their arrest, the Czech government alleged that the men knowingly went into a restricted area. Bohemia Interactive has gone on in statements claiming that the accusations were “completely false and without substance”.