Greek Police Arrest NGO Workers Involved in Illegal Migration Assistance Network


Police in Greece have arrested pro-migrant NGO workers on the island of Lesbos who they claim have been part of an operation to assist asylum seekers illegally entering the country.

According to investigators, 30 people, six of them from Greece with 24 coming from other countries, were involved with the network and three suspects have been arrested, Le Figaro reports.

All of those involved were working for the Greece-based NGO Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) which facilitates a number of programmes aimed at helping asylum seekers.

The police in Lesbos have now accused the NGO workers of being a “criminal network” which has helped smuggle illegal migrants into Greek territory for money since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015.

The arrests are not the first for members of the NGO. Earlier this year in February, two members were taken into custody after being accused of “espionage and violation of state secrets” when they illegally used official rescue frequencies while at sea. The pair were arrested in a van which displayed forged military licence plates.

Following the February arrests, an investigation was opened into others belonging to the organisation leading to the dismantling of the migrant assistance network this week.

Pro-migrant NGOs and open borders activists in Greece have come under increased scrutiny in recent years following a number of incidents including one in which several migrants died due to inaccurate maps being handed out at a makeshift migrant camp along the Macedonian border in March of 2016.

In one case, the U.S.-based NGO Mercy Corps, which is allied with left-wing Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, came under fire as Greek investigators alleged that members of the activist organisation were engaged in the sexual abuse of asylum seekers.

In Italy, migrant-rescue NGOs have also been accused of aiding illegal migration and coordinating with people smugglers working along the Libyan coast in the past.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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