East Africa

British plane spotters held in Kenya are let off with fine


Four men from Greater Manchester who were being held on terror charges will not be jailed if they pay £683, it is understood.

Four British plane spotters arrested in Kenya on terror offences are understood to be free to go providing they pay a fine.

The men, all from Greater Manchester, were held earlier this month after allegedly being caught taking pictures in an airport. A relative of one of the men said they had been threatened with jail unless they pleaded guilty to the charges.

Ian Glover, 46, Steve Gibson, 60, and Eddie Swift and Paul Abbott, both 47, are said to have been photographing planes taking off at Wilson airport just south of Nairobi while they sat in a bar.

They appeared in court on Monday morning and Kenyan website the Star reported that they were each given the option of paying a fine of 100,000 Kenyan shillings (£683) or spending a year in jail.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing support to four British men following their arrest in Kenya on 14 March. Consular staff have visited them in custody and remain in contact with them and the Kenyan authorities.”

It is understood the men thought they had been granted permission from airport officials.

Before their court appearance, Swift’s brother, Peter, from Stockport, said they were hoping to be let off with a fine after admitting trespassing.

But he said they were forced into confessing, telling the Mail On Sunday: “They pleaded guilty under duress and without any legal representation. They were threatened with prison if they didn’t plead guilty.”

The four appeared in court last Monday and were remanded in custody charged with using a mobile phone app to monitor flights and trespassing.

On Wednesday they were charged with taking photos at an airport without authority, the Star said.

The four were on a plane-spotting trip to Africa and posted photos from their holiday on Facebook, visiting Ethiopia before arriving in Kenya.

The men have pursued their hobby all over the world. Photos on Abbott’s page show trips to Europe, South America, Japan, the Middle East and former Soviet countries.

A comment on Gibson’s Facebook page – with a photo apparently showing Glover at a secret airbase in Ukraine – suggested he had been arrested while on a previous plane-spotting holiday.

The Guardian.

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