Greek police accuse aid workers of supporting migrant smugglers

Greek police have accused 35 people, among them two foreign nationals, from several foreign non-governmental aid organisations of illegally helping refugees and migrants to enter from Turkey.

Those accused allegedly provided information to people-smugglers, in at least 32 instances, on the Greek coastguard’s position and possible locations to disembark on the Aegean island of Lesbos.

The group faces criminal charges related to organised crime and espionage, police said on Monday.

It was not clear from the statement whether any arrests were made.

Two foreign nationals – identified by national broadcaster ERT as an Afghan and an Iranian – were also part of the alleged operation, the police said.

No information was given on the aid groups in question, the identities of the suspects, or whether any were already in custody.

A Greek police source said the “preliminary” investigation was still under way.

According to the police, the investigation has gone on for several months and involves the national intelligence agency and counterterrorism unit.

The accused have allegedly been helping smugglers in Turkey take people to Lesbos since at least early June.

They reportedly gathered and shared confidential information on closed social-network groups and apps.

Police did not name the organisations in question but said they were foreign, with members from countries including Germany, Austria, Norway, Switzerland and Bulgaria.

The allegations come as Greece faces accusations that it has been pushing refugees back to sea.

Meanwhile, Greek authorities on Monday began transferring hundreds of refugees from Lesbos to reduce chronic overcrowding that has caused hardship and fanned tensions with locals.

SOURCE : NEWS AGENCIES

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