Sean Binder (centre) in the presence of MEP Grace O’Sullivan (right) outside a court in Mytilene, January 10, 2023. MANOLIS LAGOUTARIS / AFP
“Today is a first step in the right direction… towards justice! ‘ exclaims Grace O’Sullivan, MEP (Greens) from Ireland, at the exit of the Court of Appeal on the Greek island of Lesvos, where twenty-four humanitarian workers have been charged with ‘espionage’, ‘migrant smuggling’ and ‘money laundering’ for more than four years . The judge on Friday, January 13, ruled out the “espionage” case against notably Sean Binder, a German-Irish national, and Sara Mardini, a Syrian refugee who, with her sister, an Olympic swimmer, inspired the film The Swimmers , discontinued, by Sally El Hosaini (2022). This decision is based on serious procedural violations: lack of translation of the indictment for foreign volunteers by the NGO ERCI, omission of a page in the documents made available to the defendants’ lawyers…
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Sara Mardini and Sean Binder were not even present on Lesvos at the time of the events
Amnesty International called the trial, which had been postponed several times, a “farce”. According to Human Rights Watch, the allegations against the non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers are “baseless”. Sara Mardini and Sean Binder, who police reports have accused of repeatedly facilitating migrants’ transit to Greece, were not even present on Lesbos at the time of the events. They are also accused of using marine radios or chatting with other NGOs via WhatsApp about the possible arrival of migrant canoes on the island. However, as Sean Binder recalls, “the Greek Coast Guard was aware that we were working hand in hand to avoid shipwrecks”.
“The file that the police are putting before us is overwhelming, full of flaws, like this court case,” continues the 29-year-old young man, who says he’s lived all these years with “a sword of Damocles hanging” over his head .”. He wanted to become a lawyer and because of this procedure he was unable to pass the Bar in London, where he is studying. Sara Mardini, who now lives in Berlin, developed symptoms of depression after her arrest in August 2018 and three months in Greek prisons and post-traumatic stress Nassos Karakitsos, also in the dock, is subject to a travel ban on Greek territory: “I had to give up job offers with NGOs in Ukraine or on rescue ships between Libya and Greece.” over. “
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