Italian NGO Head Under Investigation For Helping To Smuggle Migrants

Illegal men walk along fence, at the Lipa camp near the north-western Bosnian town of Bihac, on January 7, 2021. - On January 5, the European Union's foreign policy chief called on Bosnia to assume responsibility for hundreds of migrants left sleeping out in the cold after their camp burned …

Italian NGO head and activist Gian Andrea Franchi is one of thirty people under investigation by Italian prosecutors for helping Kurdish illegal migrants into Italy from Bosnia.

Franchi, who founded the pro-migrant NGO Linea d’Ombra (Shadow Line), is under investigation for allegedly aiding Kurdish migrants travelling along the Balkan migrant route through Bosnia in an effort to reach western Europe.

The Trieste public prosecutor has opened an investigation into the Kurdish migrant smuggling network and has conducted 18 precautionary measures including arrests of suspects,  Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

Chief prosecutor Antonio De Nicolo stated that the investigation is still ongoing and that it is being led by the General Investigations and Special Operations Division (Digos) and the Service for the Fight against Extremism and External Terrorism.

According to Il Giornale, Gian Andrea Franchi and his organisation had published videos on social media showing the NGO activists supplying migrants with food, clothing and other material along the Balkan route.

Franchi is said to also be linked to far-left Antifa anarchist extremists who came to support his NGO last October in Trieste.

Linea d’Ombra released a statement earlier this week on their website saying that police had raided Franchi’s home along with the headquarter of the group and had seized mobile phones, books and other materials.

Franchi also released a personal statement denying any involvement with the trafficking network station that his only link was having taken in an Iranian family in 2019 for a night.

The case is just the latest to see a pro-migrant NGO suspected of aiding people smugglers and facilitate illegal migration. In 2019, Luca Casarini, the head of migrant transport NGO “Mediterranea Saving Humans” was interrogated by investigators after being accused of helping aid illegal immigration.

More recently in Greece, over 30 pro-migrant NGO workers were accused of directly helping people smugglers avoid Greek border guards and land migrants in Greece.

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


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