Greek court drops espionage charges from Binder case

TCDSU protested outside the Greek embassy this afternoon in solidarity with defendants in the case

A Greek judge has dropped espionage charges against humanitarian volunteer Seán Binder, alongside 23 others this morning.

This morning, the prosecution in the case said they recognized “serious flaws” in the charges against the 24 defendants, and recommended an annulment of the trial.

In a statement posted to social media this afternoon, campaign group Free Humanitarians said: “Today we finally received some positive news after over 4 years of limbo. The judges decided to drop some of the misdemeanour charges due to the error-ridden indictment and the expiration of the statute of limitations for some charges.”

Key documents such as the indictments were not translated for the non-Greek defendants, while the charges of espionage have been too vague to continue the prosecution.

According to RTÉ, the charges will most likely run out of time under the statute of limitations and the defendants will not be charged again.

The statement also reminded followers of the case that “this is not justice”, saying that “if the same strategy of procedural errors and extensive [delays] is continued for the remaining felony charges, we have another 15 years of limbo before we can prove our innocence.”

“We would not have achieved this small victory without the immense support inside and outside Greece. Our fight for justice continues,” the group’s statement added.

On Tuesday, the legal team for the defence submitted objections to the case based on constant mistakes made by the prosecution, and the charges being too vague for defendants to fairly defend themselves against them.

Binder, who grew up in Ireland, was one of 24 volunteer and human rights activists facing charges from the government in Greece.

The trial has also seen the activists being accused of human trafficking, money laundering, fraud, and the unlawful use of radio frequencies.

Although the espionage charge has been dropped, felony charges remain against the accused. A future court date is not yet set.

This afternoon, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) gathered outside the Embassy of Greece in Dublin in solidarity with the defendants in the case, a protest announced on Wednesday.

Students protested outside the embassy with placards and chants calling on Greek authorities to drop all charges.

TCDSU President Gabi Fullam delivered a letter to the Greek minister for justice calling for all charges against the defendants to be dropped.

Speaking at the protest, Fullam, said that “the wider purpose of the trial” was not related to the individual charges, with groups such as Amnesty International calling the case “farcical”, but rather to discourage humanitarians and make them “uncomfortable or unable to do their job”.

Fullam added that this was part of a “broad demoralisation and dehumanisation of migrants”, which has also been seen in Ireland in recent protests against refugees, and reflected in the 27th Amendment of the constitution which disqualifies the children of immigrants from Irish citizenship.

“The fact that the barest amount of compassion and helping people not drown, helping people with a bottle of water when they land here, is a damning indictment of how migrants are criminalised for simply existing. We’ve delivered our letter, please sign up for humanitarian petitions. And please continue to show solidarity in any part of your life that you can”.

Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Vice President for Campaigns Ross Boyd echoed this, saying that people in Ireland “need to stand together in calling this out”.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe is a Junior Sophister student of History and Political Science. He is the current Social Media and Managing Editor of Trinity News, having previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and copyeditor.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.