Sarah Mardini, an activist and sister to Refugee Olympic Team swimmer Yusra Mardini, had charges against her dismissed last week by a Greek court.
On Friday, Mardini and two dozen other aid workers had all charges against them (including espionage) dropped. A court on Lesbos, Greece issued the ruling due to inadequacies in translating files used as evidence. While it remains possible that charges may be refiled in the future, many cases are now past their expiration dates.
Mardini and others faced up to eight years in prison for their work as part of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) aiding refugees from the Middle East who arrived on Greek shores. These charges had been decried by numerous international bodies such as the United Nations human rights office and Amnesty International as false alarm tactics designed to discourage immigration to Greece and intimidate those providing aid.
Mardini celebrated on social media the decision to exclude his “error-ridden indictment.” However, there remain felony charges with longer statutes of limitations which the government could refile, leaving defendants hanging until action is taken by the Greek government.
Mardini lamented, “We would not have achieved this small victory without the tremendous support from Greeks and beyond. Our fight for justice will continue.”
Sarah Mardini and her younger sister Yusra fled Syria in 2015, when their boat capsized in the Aegean Sea. To survive, Sarah and Yusra swam across to safety – an epic journey chronicled in Netflix movie “The Swimmers.” Yusra went on to compete for the Refugee Olympic Committee at both 2016 and 2021 Olympics while Sarah returned home in 2018 as an aid worker helping those who have made similar journeys westward like herself.
She and other aid workers, including Irishman Sean Binder, were arrested in 2018 and accused of a variety of offenses such as human trafficking and espionage.
The UN and others have called upon Greek authorities to drop all charges against a group of aid workers. According to UN spokesperson, their prosecution has “undermined human rights protections and shrunk civic space.” An Amnesty International petition demanding an unequivocal dismissal of charges has garnered over 35,000 signatures.