Dutch journalist arrested in Greece for helping asylum seeker
Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel was arrested on the Greek island of Hydra on June 13 for providing shelter to an Afghan asylum seeker. The asylum seeker was also arrested. They were both released a day later. Beugel has to appear in court in October. She faces a fine of 10,500 euros or a year in prison, NU.nl reports.
The 61-year-old journalist was arrested based on a 1991 law that forbids providing aid and shelter to undocumented migrants. As far as is known, this law has never been used in Greece, her lawyer said to the newspaper. It is also in conflict with European law.
Over the past years, Beugel often reported on the inhumane situation asylum seekers face in Greece, publishing in De Groene Amsterdammer and BNNVARA. During one of her stories in 2018, she met the then 21-year-old Afghan asylum seeker Fridoon and his dog in camp Malakasa. He told her that his father and uncle were killed by the Taliban and his brother was mutilated. He assisted Beugel as translator.
After Fridoon and his dog were severely assaulted by other camp residents, the Dutch journalist took him in and wrote about him in De Groene Amsterdammer. "I was impressed by his language skills and his gentle personality, and decided to take him under my mother wings," Beugel said to NU.nl.
According to Beugel, asylum seekers face endless uncertainty in Greece. It is virtually impossible for them to apply for asylum. They can only contact the Greek immigration service via a Skype number, but no one has answered that number in about seven months. As a result, their asylum procedure is never started and the asylum seekers end up as undocumented migrants through no fault of their own. "Hundreds of them are trapped in horror caves underground, without contact with a lawyer and forgotten by the outside world. And all that is possible in Europe in 2021," Beugel said.
On Sunday, June 13, Fridoon was arrested on Hydra for the second time. The first time happened in April. Beugel again went to the police station to plead his case, but this time she was arrested too. Officers told her she was arrested under "orders from above". It later emerged that other island residents anonymously reported that she had a relationship with an undocumented migrant who was living with her. "So I was criminalized because I have someone in my house who is trying to get asylum with all his might."
Thomas Bruning, Secretary of the Dutch association of journalists NVJ said that Beugel's arrest cannot be viewed separately from her journalistic work. He called it "alarming" that the journalist was arrested after her critical pieces about the Greek refugee policy. "The law invoked by the Greek authorities, which prohibits aid to asylum seekers, is almost never used. It seems that this is a way to intimidate Beugel."
"The arrest of Beugel shows how grim the climate is in Greece," said European Parliamentarian Tineke Strik, who pleaded with the Greek authorities for Beugel's release. "People who want to provide humanitarian aid to asylum seekers are being dealt with harshly, in this way the Greeks want to set a terrifying example."