Two British amateur radio enthusiasts have been left frustrated by the seizure of their radio equipment by Albanian police following what they claim was an innocent trip to Tirana.
Colin McGowan, a delivery driver from Scotland and Paul Tittensor from Essex travelled to Tirana in May to set up a new radio station to broadcast their signal to other ham radio enthusiasts. They hired a villa and set up antennas to broadcast information using their established call signs.
But when it came to leaving the country, customs stopped them to look at the equipment.
“On the way home the Albanian customs guy had a look at our equipment and he got quite interested, so we explained what it was. The next thing we knew, the police wanted to ask us more questions, so we were taken aside and asked to explain what everything did,” McGowan told Edinburgh Live.
He added he thought the authorities concern was that their kit could interfere with signals put out by the police or government, but explained they operate on a different frequency so that would never happen.
“In the end they took away our gear and they still have it, three weeks later,” he added, noting that the Albanian authorities had been in touch with their Scottish counterparts.
“I’m not exactly James Bond to be honest. I couldn’t even wire up one of those video doorbells, so I can assure you I wasn’t spying. I’m not entirely sure what spying might even entail to be honest and I wouldn’t know where to start,” he added.
The two believe that the authorities had probably not seen such equipment before, and a lack of experience with amateur radio could have resulted in what the two call a misunderstanding.
Eduart Merkaj, head of the Border Police of Rinas, told ABC News: “The device was captured by the scanner and there is an ongoing investigation into this matter.”
“Albanian police are not giving any further details due to sensitive investigation” he added, noting that “Tirana prosecutor’s office is continuing the investigation.”
“It is the first time such gear was seized by border police force at Mother Teresa airport.”