Greek coastguards have arrested three Spanish and two Danish volunteers off the coast of Greek island of Lesvos for allegedly moving towards a refugee boat without authorization, according to Greek officials.
The volunteers belonged to the nongovernmental organization PROMAID and Danish Team Humanity.
Greek coast guard claimed they found three knives, daggers and two digital binoculars from the volunteers’ seized boat. After their arrest, the volunteers were charged with attempting to help foreigners gain illegal entry into Greek territory and possession of weapons.
A lawyer for the detained volunteers denied all charges.
"My clients are professional firefighters in Spain and their organization has submitted the necessary accreditations to authorities. They have voluntarily come to Lesvos to help those in danger and have cooperated with authorities in the past trying to do so” Haralabos Petsikos, lawyer for the three Spanish volunteers, told Anadolu Agency.
Team Humanity urged the Greek government "to release all illegally detained volunteers because they were only trying to save human lives".
Greek police claim action against certain groups and volunteers was necessary to stop those "pretending to be volunteers" from stealing objects from refugees or boats and not deter the work of other accredited volunteers.
The five defendants are expected to apologize formally to the public prosecutor on Saturday.