Greece charges aid workers with spying on refugees rescues

24 people associated with the Emergency Response Center International, a non-profit search-and rescue group that operated in Lesbos between 2016 and 2018, could face eight years imprisonment when the trial starts on Thursday.

They are also facing felony charges, including money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization. These sentences carry a 25-year sentence.

Nils Muiznieks, Amnesty International’s European Director, said that the charges were “farcical”.

He stated in a statement that “This case is emblematic of how far the Greek authorities will take to deter people helping refugees and migrants.”

Human Rights Watch deemed the trial to be “politically motivated.”

Sarah Mardini is among those to be tried. Sarah Mardini was a Syrian refugee who took a overcrowded dingy to Greece in 2015, during the height of Europe’s refugee crisis. She pulled their sinking boat onto the shore for four hour and saved 19 other passengers.

Mardini and Sean Binder, a German citizen, were both arrested in 2018. They spent 107 days in Athens’s maximum security prison in pretrial detention.

They both left Greece shortly after being released. Binder returned to Greece despite having doubts about the trial.

Binder, Reuters Athens: “I never imagined that trying to help someone out at Sea would land you in jail.” “I am terrified of going back into prison.”

He claimed he was being held in prison for double homicide, which involved the burning of another person alive.

“It’s frightening to go there again, and I don’t believe that there will be any evidence of wrongdoing. “I’m not sure that we won’t be found guilty,” he stated.

Mardini now lives in Germany and has been banned from re-entering Greece. A lawyer will represent him.

Giorgos Kosmopoulos, a prominent Amnesty campaigner, said that it was mind-boggling why someone could not attend their own trial. He made the call during a solidarity demonstration outside of the Greek parliament.

Binder, a rescue diver said that he only wanted to volunteer for a short time.

He stated, “It was not my plan to live the rest of my lives doing this, to become some kind of champion.”

“If someone was drowning, you’d do the same as me. You’d reach out and grab them with a hand. This is the exact same crime that I’m accused.