Speaking from Greece today, Grace O’Sullivan says that over 80 MEPs have signed up in support of the search and rescue workers who face up to 25 years in prison for their work with a local NGO.
Seán Binder, who was born in Germany and raised in Castlegregory Co. Kerry, goes on trial tomorrow, 10 January, on the island of Lesvos once again facing multiple charges which have been described by leading human rights organisations as ‘trumped-up’ and ‘baseless’.
On 21st August 2018, Greek Police arrested humanitarian workers Seán Binder, Sarah Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos and others working with the non-profit organisation Emergency Response Centre International (ECRI) and charged them with a number of serious crimes including espionage (linked to their use of the common encrypted messaging app Whatsapp), forgery and membership of an illegal organisation. At the time, ECRI was running a search and rescue programme on Lesbos, as well as a medical clinic offering primary care in the Moria refugee camp, in cooperation with Greek authorities.
Sarah Mardini was recently the subject of Netflix hit film “The Swimmers” which traced her grueling journey from Syria to Europe before she returned to Lesvos to help fellow refugees, where she was arrested and imprisoned.
Speaking from Greece today where she is travelling to attend the humanitarians’ trial, Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan said; “It is rare for MEPs and politicians to weigh in on individual cases before the courts in the EU, but this trial has been politically motivated from the beginning. The EU needs a new asylum policy that encourages and defends humanitarian workers who save lives on the EU’s borders. The Greek authorities must drop these charges now and free the humanitarians from this nightmare of an ordeal.”
A campaign led by MEP O’Sullivan in support of the defendants has collected the signatures of 89 MEPs from all political backgrounds ahead of the trial. A number of events are being held across Europe today in support of Seán and his co-accused, including fundraising swims across Ireland which aim to raise funds for the defendants ‘Free Humanitarians’ campaign.