Human rights activists reject Greek migration smuggling charges

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A Norwegian human rights group helping migrants in Greece on Thursday rejected smuggling charges brought forward this week by a Greek prosecutor against its founder and another prominent activist.

Aegean Boat Report said the lawsuit “can only be described as frivolous, if not an aggressive effort to intimidate us.”

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On Tuesday, a prosecutor on the Greek island of Kos said Aegean Boat Report founder Tommy Olsen and Greek Helsinki Monitor spokesperson Panayote Dimitras were part of a “criminal organization” to facilitate the illegal entry of asylum seekers into Greece, court sources said.

“Neither we, nor as far as we know the Greek Helsinki Monitor have ever formed a criminal organization,” the organization said.

“The ‘charge’ is that we actually are informing the Greek authorities of the location of people who have entered Greece in the hope of finding safety, both assisting the legal rights of those people, and assisting the Greek authorities to carry out their own legal duties.

“We very much hope the Greek courts can save the government the embarrassment of either having their most recent attack on us dismissed by the court or shown to be the aggressive effort to deter us from doing our jobs that it in fact is,” the group said.

A trial date has yet to be set.

Tens of thousands of people fleeing Africa and the Middle East seek to enter Greece, Italy and Spain in hope of better lives in the European Union.

On Friday, a two-month-old baby was recovered dead from a migrant wreckage off the island of Lesbos.

Humanitarian organization MSF Sea later said that police blocked its team from reaching the migrants for two hours and coastguards did the same with another team.

The body of another baby, believed lost by its mother who was among another group of migrants that landed on December 9, was found near Lesbos on Wednesday.

Aegean Boat Report on Thursday said Greece has “illegally pushed-back tens of thousands of men, women and children, killing some, beating many and robbing almost all, in the process.”

Greece has denied all pushback claims, and insists its coastguard is doing its utmost to save migrant lives at sea.

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