Head of migrant rescue NGO facing smuggling charges


The head of a Greek NGO involved in rescuing migrants at sea appeared before a prosecutor in Mytilene on Wednesday to face accusations of running a criminal network and aiding migrant smugglers.

The founder of Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) arrived voluntarily by ferry in Lesvos and was detained on a pending arrest warrant.

He is one of 30 other past and current rescue activists who are accused, among others, of smuggling refugees from Turkey into Greece, money laundering, espionage, violating state secrets and counterfeiting.

Among those arrested is Sarah Mardini, one of two Syrian sisters who saved over a dozen refugees in 2015 by pulling their dinghy to the shore. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Sarah Mardini is the older sister of Yusra, a UNHCR goodwill ambassador and swimmer who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.