‘James Bond mystery’ as Brit radio fanatic’s equipment seized by Albanian spies

After being suspected of spying, a Scottish radio fanatic has told of how he was arrested by Albanian authorities.

Colin McGowan, a delivery driver from Stenhousemuir, said he was surprised when he was questioned about his radio gear which was then sent for further investigation at the Albanian Criminality Laboratory.

Together, the Albanian Police’s C Unit (Cybernetic Unit) and Albanian secret service (SHISH) have been working with prosecutors to make certain beyond all reasonable doubt that Colin is indeed nothing more than a regular bloke with a love of radios.

Albanian authorities want to work out whether he was involved in espionage during a five-day trip there last month, the Daily Record reports.

Colin, 46, said: “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.

“It all came as a bit of a surprise but I believe the Albanian authorities' lack of experience or knowledge of amateur radio is what sparked this.

“They simply hadn’t seen equipment like ours and they wanted to make sure everything was above board.”

During his travels, Colin was accompanied by Paul Tittensor, 61, from Chelmsford, Essex.

Using their established call signs, the pair rented a villa and set up their radio gear, including antennas.

Colin said: “We had a very successful few days and everything went to plan.

“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.

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“I think there was a concern that our stuff could interfere with signals being put out by the Albanian police or government but we operate on different frequencies so there was never really any chance of any kind of problem.

“I know they have been in contact with the procurator fiscal in Scotland and I hope that helps to clear things up and gets our equipment back to us.

“In the end they took away our gear and they still have it, three weeks later.

“I’m aware that the Albanians launched an inquiry but they let us come back to Scotland. There isn’t really that much to inquire into.

“It wasn’t that traumatic and we left the police on quite good terms.

“We were never formally put under arrest or locked up.”

In Albania, the duo’s adventure was reported on and their kit referred to as a “suspicious device”.

Speaking to ABC News, Eduart Merkaj, head of the Border Police of Rinas, said: “The device was captured by the scanner and there is an ongoing investigation into this matter.”

The report adds: “Albanian police are not giving any further details due to sensitive investigation.

"Tirana prosecutor’s office is continuing the investigation.

“It is the first time such gear were seized by border police force at Mother Teresa airport.”

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