The operation that helped uncover four non-governmental organisations believed to be involved in the illegal trafficking of migrants and in espionage at Greece’s expense lasted several months and was methodical, multi-level and systematic, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Lefteris Economou told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Sunday.
The minister was referring to the evidence of a migrant-trafficking ring operating on the island of Lesvos that involved 33 members of NGOs and another two private individuals.
“It was a significant success, for which the security forces of the Hellenic Police, the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the Coast Guard cooperated harmoniously and effectively. At this point, I should like to especially single out EYP’s contribution to this whole effort,” Economou said.
Outlining the complexity of the case, he said it involved specific European NGOs coordinating on Turkish territory, which arranged the illegal passage of migrants to the Greek islands and revealed the positions of Hellenic Coast Guard and Hellenic Navy vessels that were on missions in Greek waters.
“Internationally recognised NGOs are active in our country, with a significant contribution to the management of the migration issue, who operate on the basis of legality and are listed in the migration ministry register. The contribution of many of these was positive for the management of the major migration/refugee issue,” he noted.
“Any NGOs that operate in a parasitic fashion, however, will be found and brought before justice. The operations of the Hellenic Police and EYP concern specific NGOs and foreign networks that act at the expense of the country’s national security,” Economou said.
The minister went on to say that the security forces and armed forces of Greece “have orders from the prime minister and the government to carry out their mission without hesitation or inhibition, protecting Greece from end to end against any kind of threat. We have said it and we are doing it.”