A 43-year-old Egyptian working as a painter has been arrested for spying on Greek military bases. He is also accused of smuggling “VIP migrants” from Syria.
Egyptian national Hani Samir was arrested after an investigation began into the activities of a people-smuggling network on the Greek island of Kos. Described by authorities as being like a many-tentacled “hydra”, the criminal gang moved illegals onto the mainland and onwards to northern Europe.
The investigation into the network began in November when five Syrians were discovered during a random check on the island travelling with forged passports. The investigation led to the discovery of the organisation working with “VIP” migrants using fast, inflatable boats and charging thousands of euros, Proto Thema reports.
Investigators later learned of more members of the group, including four Greeks, a 30-year-old Palestinian who provided fake passports, a Turkish liaison working with people smugglers in Turkey, and a well-known hotel owner on Kos.
Later that same month, police on Kos arrested another Syrian who was revealed to have been collecting information about local authorities and made maps to help the network’s small boats avoid detection. Authorities suspect he also picked up the recently-landed migrants, took them to the hotel, and then to a port to take them to Piraeus on the Greek mainland.
People Traffickers Abandoned 17 Victims to Their Fate After Damaging Smuggling Boat https://t.co/4S9thrAN70
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 14, 2021
After several more arrests, including a 36-year-old Lebanese national, police discovered elements of espionage taking place. Officials then informed the European police agency Europol that the network is also active on the island of Rhodes, where six more members were arrested.
Last Monday, police arrested a Moroccan people smuggler off the island of Kalymnos. The Moroccan was found on a fast inflatable boat with seven migrants on board. At the same time, two Syrian women aged 23 and 27, who were planning to fly to Athens, were arrested on the island carrying fake passports. They admitted that the Moroccan arrested earlier in the day had been helping to smuggle them.
Both women were being escorted by the 43-year-old Egyptian painter, Hani Samir, at the time of their arrests, and it was found that they had been hiding at his house before they attempted to fly to Athens.
A search of Samir’s mobile phone revealed pictures of sensitive Greek military units and outposts. Authorities then confiscated the Egyptian’s electronic devices and memory sticks, which are being analysed by IT forensics specialists of the Hellenic Police.
Greek Northern Border Area Sees Fresh Surge of Migrants https://t.co/pJdIacSeAh
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 21, 2021
Investigators theorise that the painter, who sometimes undertook work at the military bases, had photographed the installations on the order of the network to better help them avoid detection. But when questioned in a court appearance, the man denied any wrongdoing. He said he did not know taking photographs at the base was illegal, claiming he took the pictures because he enjoyed the scenery.
Samir also alleged that the Syrian illegals — who had been provided with the fake passports and recognised their Moroccan people smuggler — were just his “friends”.
The case comes just weeks after people smugglers abandoned 17 migrants in a stolen ship off the coast of Corfu, leaving them adrift after the boat had broken down. The Greek coastguard later rescued the migrants and transferred the boat to a port on Othobnoi before it was handed back to its rightful owner.