Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) are to stage a protest at the Embassy of Greece this Friday at 1pm, calling on Greek authorities to drop the charges against Trinity graduate Seán Binder and his 23 co-defendants.
Binder and 23 others face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of charges including people smuggling and espionage related to their humanitarian work helping migrants in the Mediterranean.
In a statement posted to social media this afternoon, TCDSU said: “Saving lives is not a crime.”
The statement continued: “This Friday, stand in solidarity with humanitarian workers who are at risk of imprisonment for unlawful charges.”
It calls on students to stand in solidarity with Binder and his colleagues who “supported forced migrants and refugees through search & rescue in the Mediterranean, as well as other services such as workshops, swimming classes for children, and medical assistance to residents in Moria camp, a refugee camp on Lesbos.”
“Compassion is not a crime,” it adds, calling on students to sign a petition by Free Humanitarians for the charges to be dropped, and to join the protest at the Greek embassy.
TCDSU also call on students to support migrants rights campaigns in Ireland, to “build communities of dignity, respect, solidarity, and openness”.
The trial, which began on the island of Lesbos yesterday, is due to resume on Friday, when the court will decide whether to drop charges against the defendants.
In court yesterday, lawyers for the defence argued that the constant mistakes and errors made by the prosecution have made it impossible for defendants to fairly defend themselves against them.
Speaking outside the court today, Binder said his defence team had provided “irrefutable reasons” why the charges against him should be dropped.
“The prosecution has made mistake after mistake: they’ve violated our human rights; they’ve made procedural errors; they’ve done everything possible so that this trial can’t happen,” he said.
He added that the prosecution “has made flaw after flaw and mistake after mistake and that cannot continue, we’re supposed to have democratic values and basic principles, and I hope that on Friday that is achieved”.
Binder, who studied philosophy, political science, economics, and sociology (PPES) in Trinity, went to Greece in 2017 to work with Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) carrying out search-and-rescue operations and helping migrants arriving in Greece by sea.
Binder has said that his job mostly involved standing with medical and rescue equipment near the shore between 7am and midnight each day, waiting for migrants arriving on boats.
He was arrested in 2018 on charges of people smuggling, money laundering, espionage and membership in a criminal organisation, and is now one of two dozen humanitarian workers facing trial. Amnesty International has called the case “farcical”.
Other defendants in the trial include Sara Mardini, a Syrian refugee who was arrested the same day as Binder and subject of recent Netflix film The Swimmers, and Nassos Karakitsos, a trained rescuer.