Five members of the international charities Team Humanity and PromAid who were arrested on the island of Lesbos in Greece have been released on bail.
A prosecutor had brought criminal charges against the volunteers on Thursday for allegedly setting off in a rescue vessel to assist a boat carrying refugees in Turkish waters without clearance by the Hellenic Coast Guard.
The volunteers, three Spanish and two Danish nationals, denied all charges saying that all they were doing was trying to save human lives. Nevertheless, they face a minimum five-year prison sentence if they are convicted.
One of the Danish volunteers and owner of the boat that they were arrested on, will have to pay a 10,000 euro bail bond and will not be able to leave the country until the final verdict. The four other volunteers will need to pay 5,000 euros each as bond.
Manuel Blanco, a Spanish volunteer released on bail, said: “I am a bit shocked, we came here to help, we didn’t come here to do anything illegal, nor did we transfer people illegally from Turkey to Greece.”
“The only reason we came here, to the island of Lesbos, was to help out. We are civil servants, we are firefighters, our job is to provide help to people who are in trouble. From the moment we arrived, we always coordinated with the Greek government and were reporting to them as to what we were doing here,” the volunteer said.
Lesbos residents, institutions of the island and SYRIZA MPs expressed their support to the five volunteers sending the message that “solidarity cannot be criminalized.”