Thirty-three NGO members face charges of illegally smuggling migrants into Greece


Thirty-three members of non-government organizations and two foreign nationals alleged to have illegally facilitated the illegal entry of asylum seekers from Turkey into Greece are facing criminal charges including running a criminal organization and espionage and violating state secrets, the Greek Police (ELAS) said on Monday.

In a statement released following several months of investigation with the aid of Greece’s intelligence agency and counter-terrorism unit, ELAS said the alleged racket had been helping smuggle migrants to the island of Lesvos since at least early June.

It is alleged to have actively supported smuggling rings to sneak in migrants using closed social media groups, apps and confidential information including gathering points of migrants on the Turkish coast and the geographical coordinates of refugee flows towards Greece.

The alleged use of the apps also interfered with rescue operations by the Hellenic Coast Guard, according to ELAS.

It has been linked to at least 32 cases of migrant smuggling or attempted smuggling, the statement said, adding that the investigation is continuing to determine the breadth of the alleged racket's activities.