Dutch journalist held in Greece for sheltering asylum seeker

Agence France-Presse . Athens, Greece | Published: 23:27, Jun 23,2021 | Updated: 23:28, Jun 23,2021


A Dutch journalist faces a year in prison and a 5000-euro ($6,000) fine in Greece after police arrested her for sheltering a young Afghan asylum seeker, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Ingeborg Beugel, 61, says she spent the night in a police cell earlier this month on the island of Hydra and was taken handcuffed to court under a 30-year-old law designed to discourage assistance to Albanians who came to Greece illegally at the time.

Since coming to power in 2019, the conservative Greek government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has toughened migration and asylum laws.

Beugel's lawyer Vassilis Papadopoulos told AFP that being convicted for sheltering a migrant would be ‘very unusual in Greece.’

A correspondent for Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, Beugel was arrested on June 13 in Hydra where she has lived on and off with her children for the past 40 years.

She had been trying to help her 23-year-old Afghan guest Fridoon, who had been picked up by police earlier in the day. 

After spending the night in a police cell, Beugel said she was put on a ferry to a court in Piraeus, handcuffed to Fridoon. 

Having alerted the Dutch embassy in Athens, she was soon released and her court case was postponed to October.

‘The clause in the law is about hiding undocumented migrants. I have never hidden that Fridoon lives with me,’ Beugel told De Groene Amsterdammer, which reported on her story.

In an interview with AFP, Beugel said a police officer told her that ‘angry islanders had called the police, anonymously.’

She added that Fridoon only became ‘“illegal” involuntarily’ as the Greek Asylum Service was closed for months due to the pandemic and he was unable to meet specific deadlines.

He fled Kabul because his father and uncle were killed by the Taliban, and arrived in Lesbos in 2015, Beugel said. 

‘He has had two asylum applications rejected because in July 2017 when he had to tell his story to the Greek Asylum Service, he got a translator who wrote his story wrong in Greek. It took years to correct that wrongdoing, and he is now entitled to another attempt’, she told AFP. 

In 2017 in a similar case, Cedric Herrou, a French national, was sentenced to four months in prison and a fine of 3,000 euros for sheltering migrants. He was acquitted on appeal in 2020.

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