A total of 35 people, 33 of them workers from four separate Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), have been implicated by Greek police in helping to smuggle illegal migrants to the Aegean island of Lesbos.
The 33 NGO workers are said to come from a variety of countries including Austria, Germany, Norway, France, Switzerland and Spain, while two non-NGO workers are said to be migrants from Iran and Pakistan.
Greek investigators say the group started their activities in June of 2019 and that between them they had facilitated at least 32 border crossings that saw an estimated 3,000 asylum seekers enter the country illegally, newspaper Proto Thema reports.
The group is also said to have used private internet groups and messaging applications to coordinate information on where migrant boats would leave and arrive on Lesbos.
Greek Police Arrest NGO Workers Involved in Illegal Migration Assistance Network https://t.co/YAJ18kgfiz
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 30, 2018
According to Proto Thema, the NGO members worked with people traffickers in order to get information on migrant boats leaving the Turkish coast, including coordinates and how many migrants were on board the ships.
The information comes after an investigation by the Mytilene Security Sub-Directorate alongside the Greek National Intelligence Service and the Counter-Terrorism Service.
Greek investigators are still examining the extent of the group’s illegal activities and what other links they may have.
Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarakis commented on the cases saying that illegal activity form NGOs would not be tolerated and added that reducing migrant flows and the role of NGOs is a “top priority” for the current government.
The allegations come just over two years after another group of NGO workers on Lesbos were accused of helping to smuggle migrants. At least three people were arrested in the case and were accused of illegally using Greek official rescue radio frequencies and forging military licence plates.
Audit Reveals Huge Growth of Pro-Migration NGOs with Millions in Revenue https://t.co/7O9Wm8pObw
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 24, 2020
Later that year, Ariel Ricker, the executive director of the pro-migrant advocacy group Advocates Abroad, was caught on video allegedly stating that the NGO coached migrants what to say in order to get a successful asylum claim.
The NGO later admitted the footage, in which Ricker stated that European Asylum Support Office workers were “f*cking stupid,” was of Ms Ricker but claimed it had been heavily edited.