Greece starts espionage trial against 24 assisting people

Greece
Greece

 

Greece starts surveillance case against 24 assisting people

More than two dozen aid workers will go on trial Thursday for their role in helping migrants enter Greece between 2016 and 2018 the defendants face a range of charges, including espionage, forgery, and the illegal use of radio frequencies.

Human rights groups condemned the trial as politically motivated, while Amnesty International described the allegations as “funny” Lesbos, the island at the center of the migration crisis, will host the process.

Among the 24 defendants, 17 of whom are foreigners, is Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini, sister of Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini. The brothers attracted international attention in 2015 after bringing their refugee boat to safety after sustaining an engine failure.

Mardini was denied entry to Greece in self-defense and had to follow proceedings from Germany, where he was granted asylum.

Prosecutors allege that humanitarian workers linked to search and rescue teams monitored Greek coast guard radio channels and used vehicles with fake military license plates to enter restricted areas of Lesbos If found guilty, they face up to five years in prison.

Some are still under investigation for various other crimes, including human trafficking, and could face an additional sentence of up to 25 years if convicted Sean Binder, an Irish humanitarian on trial, told Irish television RTÉ: “I like to defend myself, I know I didn’t do anything wrong and we can prove it.

“I was charged with a crime allegedly committed a year before I arrived on the island,” he added Nils Muiznieks, director of Amnesty International’s European regional office, said in a statement: “The allegations you are facing are a joke and should never be brought to justice.”

“This iconic case shows how far the Greek authorities will go to prevent people from helping refugees and migrants. “Stopping bailouts doesn’t prevent people from making dangerous trips, it just makes those trips more dangerous,” he added.

The trial comes as Greece’s Conservative government, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is pushing human rights groups to limit the number of people entering the country.

However, Last year he introduced stricter rules for dozens of international aid organizations, which critics say makes working in the country more difficult.