As of this writing, two staff members of ArmA III and DayZ developer Bohemia Interactive are still in Greek custody accused of espionage. The Czech citizens were arrested on Sept. 9 on the island of Lemnos , a tourist destination and home to one of the Greek military’s airbase, under suspicion of spying. If convicted, Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta could spend up to 20 years in prison.
Bohemia Interactive is now calling for ArmA fans to band together to help get Buchta and Pezlar out of Greece. Eurogamer and other outlets are reporting that the Bohemia community has started a petition calling for the developers’ release.
“We’ve been gratified at the interest you have shown in our games and especially the attention garnered by the recent DayZ phenomenon,” said Bohemia spokesman Ota Vrtatko in a prepared statement, “What I would like to do is make you aware, if you’re not already, of a community created support website for Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar—HelpIvanMartin.org. The website contains information about their arrest, links to news reports and an on-going petition to raise voices in protest at the arrest and charges.”
Buchta and Pezlar released a joint statement on Monday. “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 worry about us. We hope we will meet you soon.”
It was initially reported that Buchta and Pezlar were scouting locations for use in ArmA III, which features the island of Lemnos as a setting for its strict military simulations. The men and Bohemia, however, insist that they were simply vacationing on the island, having become interested after working on their game.
“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 with substance,” said Vrtatko in a Monday statement, “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.”
“The in-game Lemnos is close to completion, and it’s far from an identical replication of the real place.”
There is some evidence that their incarceration is retaliatory. According to CTK, the Greek government took umbrage with the use of Greece as a setting in a military game, claiming that ArmA III could damage Lemnos’ reputation as a tourist attraction.