Greece Starts Trial of Aid Workers Who Rescued Refugees

November 18, 2021

In a move denounced by critics as “farcical,” Greece’s Conservative New Democracy government has put on trial more than two dozen aid workers helping and rescuing refugees and migrants to reach the country.

There are some 100,000 in detention camps around Greece, including on five islands near Turkey, which let human traffickers keep sending them after they reached that country from their homelands where they fled war, hardship and economic strife.

The trial began Nov. 18 with the defendants facing a line of charges including espionage, forgery and the unlawful use of radio frequencies to find refugees whom they said they were saving, not trafficking.

Human rights groups have condemned the charges as being politically motivated as the government has become hardline against refugees and migrants who began pouring into the country in 2015.

In a report, the BBC noted the trial is being held on the island of Lesbos, where most of the refugees and migrants being detained on five islands are being held after it became a symbol of the lingering crisis.

Irish-German Sean Binder stands at the yard of a court before his trial in Mytilene port, on the northeastern Aegean island of Lesbos, Greece, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. Activists linked to a migrant search-and-rescue group will be tried in court, facing espionage and other felony charges. (AP Photo/Panagiotis Balaskas)

Among the 24 defendants, 17 of whom are foreign nationals, is Syrian refugee Sarah Mardini, sister of the Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, who both i 2i015 dragged a refugee boat to safety when the engine failed.

Sarah Mardini has been barred from coming to Greece to defend herself and is watching the trial from Germany, where she was given asylum, the report noted, the focus now on the Greek government.

Prosecutors contend that the aid workers affiliated with a search and rescue group, monitored the Greek Coast Guard’s radio channels and used a vehicle with fake military licence plates to enter restricted areas on Lesbos.

If found guilty they could face five-year prison sentences and some are under investigation for other charges, including human smuggling, which brings sentences up to 25 years.

Sean Binder, an Irish aid worker facing trial, told the Irish broadcaster RTÉ: “I am happy to defend myself, I know I did nothing wrong, and we can prove that.”

“I’m being charged with crimes that I am supposed to have committed a year before I was ever on the island,” he added.

Nils Muižnieks, Director of Amnesty International’s European Regional Office, said in a statement: “The charges they face are farcical and should never have come to trial”.

“This emblematic case demonstrates how far the Greek authorities will go to deter people from helping refugees and migrants. Stopping rescue operations doesn’t stop people from making dangerous journeys, it simply makes those journeys more perilous,” he added.


BRUSSELS  - The price of olive oil in the European Union was up 50% in January 2024 compared to January 2023, Eurostat said on Tuesday, with Greece being one of three countries with the highest increase.

Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


By Defining Sex, Some States Are Denying Transgender People Legal Recognition

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Mack Allen, an 18-year-old high school senior from Kansas, braces for sideways glances, questioning looks and snide comments whenever he has to hand over his driver's license, which still identifies him as female.

HEMPSTEAD, NY – The Maids of Athena District 6 Lodge held their first ever mid-year conference on February 24 at St.

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT - Is Michelle Troconis a murderous conspirator who wanted her boyfriend's estranged wife dead and helped him cover up her killing? Or was she an innocent bystander who unwittingly became ensnared in one of Connecticut's most enduring missing person and alleged homicide cases? A state jury heard two different tales of the 49-year-old Troconis as the prosecution and defense made their closing arguments Tuesday in Stamford.

LONDON — Kensington Palace says Britain's Prince William has pulled out of attending a memorial service for his godfather, the late King Constantine of Greece, because of a personal matter.

MONTREAL/NEW YORK – The Maids of Athena (MOA) District 6 (New York) and District 23 (Eastern Canada) Lodges held their first ever inter-district Zoom fundraising event on February 20.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.