Volunteers arrested for helping refugees enter Lesbos, Greece
LESBOS, GREECE –The Hellenic coast guard says all five volunteers arrested earlier this week have been released on bail on Sunday.
According to the Danish group Team Humanity, four of the volunteers had to pay 5,000 euros (just under $8,000) bail and the other one had to pay 10,000 euros and cannot leave Greece until the next trial.
The volunteers were arrested off the coast of the Greek island of Lesbos on Thursday morning, according to officials. A trial date is currently pending.
The volunteers, two Danish and three Spanish, are accused of helping refugees gain ‘illegal entry’ into Lesbos and for carrying weapons including three knives.
The volunteers were with the Danish group Team Humanity and the Spanish group PROMAID, two of the dozens of NGOs helping thousands of refugees and migrants arriving from the Turkish coast every week.
The coast guard says this is the first arrest of volunteers helping refugees on the island.
Volunteers are required to communicate to the Hellenic coast guard in the southern city of Mytilene when they are going to be helping refugees. The volunteers are accused of failing to report this information to the appropriate parties.
They were caught by the coast guard boat. The five defendants appeared before a prosecutor on Saturday for an apology.
Several volunteers from around the world currently working on the island stood outside the courthouse in the southern city of Mytilene on Saturday, demanding that charges be dropped and the volunteers be released.
According to supporters, the volunteers were towing a dinghy full of refugees, which was experiencing engine problems, with their boat when the Greek coast guard ship towed and arrested them.