Spanish firefighters who had been volunteering with an aid organization when they were accused of attempted human trafficking in Greece were on Monday cleared of all charges by a Greek court.
The three men working with Proem-Aid, who were arrested by Greek maritime authorities in 2016, had insisted their sole intention on the island of Lesbos was to carry out humanitarian rescue missions and save lives.
"The spotlight is on us today but the real problem is that people are still drowning at sea," said Manuel Blanco, who along with his two colleagues faces 10 years in prison for every person they supposedly smuggled into the country.
On Jan. 14, 2016, the firefighters answered a call from Danish NGO Team Humanity, who asked them to collaborate in the rescue of a boat that was adrift.
Because the Proem-Aid ship was being repaired, they joined Team Humanity on their vessel, but when they arrived at the spot where the asylum-seekers' boat was supposedly in trouble, they found nothing so they returned to port, where they were immediately detained.
They spent three days in jail before being released on bail and returning home.