On trial for saving lives: the young refugee activist facing a Greek court

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Sunday, November 14, 2021
On trial for saving lives: the young refugee activist facing a Greek court

theguardian.com | 14 November 2021|

On trial for saving lives: the young refugee activist facing a Greek court

Seán Binder belongs to the band of committed humanitarians who rushed to Greece at the height of the refugee crisis. In other countries, and at other times, his idealism might have been celebrated.

But the 27-year-old law student, who has spent the past two years in London, is a man living in fear. Though forced to abandon volunteering, the German-born Irishman and his Syrian friend, Sarah Mardini, are perhaps the most famous aid workers in Greece, for all the wrong reasons: a criminal investigation has hung over their heads for the past three years.

“There’s nothing criminal, or heroic, about helping people in distress at sea,” he tells the Observer. “Legally and morally, it is the right thing to do.”

The activists have been accused of human trafficking, money laundering, fraud and espionage – the last charge based on allegations that, while on Lesbos, the Aegean island at the centre of refugee flows, they monitored coastguard radio channels and vessels to gain advance notification of the location of smugglers’ boats.

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