A 75-year-old Norwegian charity photographer is being held on the Greek island of Lesvos after being arrested on espionage-related charges and is due to appear in court Friday.
“We are aware of the arrest of a Norwegian citizen on Lesvos. The Embassy will offer assistance according to the consular framework,” the Norwegian Embassy said in a statement.
Knut Bry was working with a local nonprofit organisation, Lesvos Solidarity, a group that helps migrants and refugees.
He was arrested while taking photos of the harbour.
Taking photographs of military areas can lead to prosecution for illegally obtaining state secrets and is punishable by imprisonment of at least one year.
Located near the coast of Turkey, Lesvos was the busiest point of entry into the European Union during the 2015-16 refugee crisis, when hundreds of thousands of people fled wars in Iraq and Syria.
The Greek government has taken a tough line on migration, intercepting boats carrying migrants from Turkey and limiting the ability of charities to help migrants.
Bry’s lawyer, Haris Petsikos, describe the espionage-related charges as unfounded.
“Of course he does not accept these allegations under any circumstances,” Petsikos said. “We don’t see anything from the case file that is incriminating against him.”
Nikos Markou of Lesvos Solidarity expressed his shock at his colleague Bry’s arrest describing the Norwegian as a “kind and generous man” who divides his time between Lesvos and Norway.
“Everyone likes him,” said Markou. “He would help out with the refugees any way he could, peeling potatoes, handing out meals.”
“I don’t think he really understood why he was arrested. We have received so many messaged of support from people who have worked with him. He is a great photographer and a sensitive guy, a wonderful man.”
Petsikos sais that Bry would appear before a prosecutor Friday however would formally present his defense on Monday after being granted time to prepare his case.
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