Wednesday 22 May 2019

'I'm not a hero but I'm not a criminal' - Trinity graduate Sean (24) returns home after 100 days in Greek jail

  • Sean Binder arrives home after being released on bail
  • 'I'm feeling relieved, it's amazing to be back home with my family'
  • 'It was easy to lose hope in prison.... but I guess it's important to remember I did nothing wrong'
Sean Binder
Sean Binder
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Trinity graduate Sean Binder, who spent over 100 days in a Greek jail, returned home to Ireland today after being released on bail.

Sean, 24, from Togher, Co Cork, was embraced by his mother, Fanny, at Dublin Airport as he landed on Irish soil after months of being imprisoned in a Greece prison.

"I'm not a hero but I'm not a criminal," Sean, who was in Greece volunteering with a refugee group in Lebos, said.

Sean was arrested with Syrian human rights worker Sarah Mardini, 23, sister of Olympic swimmer, Yusra Mardini.

Fanny Binder, who has flown to Greece, with a photo of her son Sean at his university graduation. Photo: Darragh McSweeney
Fanny Binder, who has flown to Greece, with a photo of her son Sean at his university graduation. Photo: Darragh McSweeney

The pair were alleged to have been involved in human trafficking by the Greek authorities, something they deny.

Sean was released on €5,000 bail earlier this month and he is awaiting a trial date in Greece.

"I'm feeling relieved, it's amazing to be back home with my family," Sean said.

"It's Christmas next week, so it's great to be back but this is not really over. 

Sean Binder
Sean Binder

"We have been released on bail but the absurd allegations are ongoing.

"We are still waiting for a trial. It was easy to lose hope in prison when this was going on so long and when I realised it can take 18 months (to be detained pre-trial) you can really lose hope but I guess it's important to remember I did nothing wrong and I had to hold onto that fact.

"What I did was good, how can it be a crime to pull people who are drowning out of the water, how can it be a crime to help children be children and to provide medical facilities in a refugee camp?  How can that be criminal, it's not. It's necessary," he continued.

“It’s important to say that helping people with basic medical care isn’t heroic because if you frame it as heroic then not helping becomes normalised. It isn't criminal but it’s not heroic.”

The young man was looking forward to Christmas at home with his mother and extended family between Cork and Co Kerry and he is planning a Christmas day swim and surf in Castlegregory, Co Kerry.

He is also planning to start working on his legal battle once he’s settled in at home.

Sean had been charged with human trafficking when he was on the Greek island of Lesbos to assist refugees in a humanitarian basis as part of his work with Emergency Response Centre International.

He voluntarily met with police in August after being told he was a person of interest in relation to the group’s alleged activities.

He and three other volunteers spent the last three months in a Greek jail after they were accused of helping illegal migrants enter the country. All four have been released on bail.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News