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Woman's health deteriorating in jail

PUBLISHED: 06:20 06 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:59 03 March 2010

RELATIVES of a woman jailed in Greece on suspicion of spying have spoken of their increased concern for her health after returning from visiting her.

Grandmother Lesley Coppin, 51, from Mildenhall, was arrested along with her husband Paul, 45, and 12 other British and Dutch plane-spotters for alleged espionage after visiting an airbase last month.

RELATIVES of a woman jailed in Greece on suspicion of spying have spoken of their increased concern for her health after returning from visiting her.

Grandmother Lesley Coppin, 51, from Mildenhall, was arrested along with her husband Paul, 45, and 12 other British and Dutch plane-spotters for alleged espionage after visiting an airbase last month.

Mr Coppin's mother Jean Butt, from Downham Market, Norfolk, returned to the UK yesterday along with his father Albert after visiting their relatives.

Mrs Butt said that her daughter-in-law's condition was giving her family particular cause for concern. Mrs Coppin, an asthmatic, is currently sharing a cell at a high-security prison with 17 other women, and is said to have lost weight and become frail because of the ordeal.

Mrs Butt said: "Seeing her like that is the most distressing thing I have ever done. It is cruel what they're doing to her.

"Her condition is appalling. We are very worried about her health. She is in a terrible state.

"She didn't want me to go. She was holding on to me. She kept saying 'They will never get me out of here'."

Mrs Butt was among a group of family members of the 12 Britons jailed who flew to Greece earlier this week to visit their relatives and talk to British Embassy officials.

She added that she wanted swift action by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to help free her son and daughter-in-law in time for Christmas.

Mrs Coppin's son Steve Warren, of Lilac Drive, Lakenheath, who did not visit Greece, said that his mother had grown increasingly weak.

He said: "She is in such a bad state that her wedding ring will not stay on her finger. My mother has been on many diets in her life but never lost enough weight for that to happen.

"She is in such distress that she finds herself gasping for breath and unable to speak. Her condition is rapidly deteriorating and if she is not released soon we fear she will not be able to cope."

A panel of Greek judges is reviewing the evidence against the plane-spotters and relatives hope that they could announce a decision next week.


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