Former Trinity student Sean Binder is one of four humanitarian aid workers released on bail today after being detained for over one hundred days by Greek authorities for their efforts to rescue migrants and asylum seekers at sea.

Sarah Mardini (23), Sean Binder (24), were released on €5,000 bail after being held in pre-trial detention where they could have faced a wait of up to 18 months.

Greek authorities claim that Mardini and Binder’s work in helping to conduct search and rescue operations in the Aegean Sea, as well as helping refugees who landed on the Greek island of Lesbos, amounts to ‘people smuggling’, even though the law that this felony breaches (Law 4251 2014) excludes helping refugees.

The humanitarian workers also face charges of money laundering for fundraising activities they carried out with the not-for-profit NGO, the Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) and espionage for their monitoring of open maritime radio channels and public websites for information on refugee and migrant boats in distress.

The felonies which Mardini and Binder are accused of carry penalties of up to 25 years in prison.

Mardini was arrested in Lesbos airport on August 21st as she was about to fly to Germany for her second year of undergraduate studies in Bard University, Berlin.

Shortly after, Binder was arrested when he went to visit Sarah in police custody.

Professor at Bard University Florian Becker was one of many who pleaded on Twitter for the release of these young humanitarian workers who are facing what Human Rights Watch have called ‘baseless accusations’.

A good friend of Sean Binder, Brigid Devine spoke to STAND News:

‘’I met Sean in our first year of college. We were on the same course- Politics, Philosophy, Economics and Sociology (PPES), and we’ve been friends ever since. We were also involved in Trinity’s branch of Saint Vincent de Paul together, working with kids in schools all around Dublin to put on the annual VDP (Trinity SVP) panto. As soon as Sean started volunteering, it was clear he was in his element.’’

‘’My roommate and I used to make a game out of predicting our friends’ futures, and when we came to Sean we always said he’d never be rich, because he cares too little about money, he’d end up with friends in every country in the world, because of his adventurous and kind nature, and that he’d spend every minute of his life and all his energy helping people who need it and trying to make the world a better place.’’

In a statement released today, Kondylia Gougou, Amnesty International’s Greece Researcher said,

‘’Whilst we welcome the news that these dedicated humanitarians will be back with their families tonight after more than 100 days behind bars, the fact that they still face absurd charges and potentially long prison sentences is an outrage.’’

“This case is just the latest example of how authorities are misusing anti-smuggling laws to target activists and criminalize rescue. To detain dedicated volunteer humanitarians who helped people in need defies logic. People who selfless act in these ways should be lauded not imprisoned. These baseless charges should be dropped.”

 

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