Mother of Corkman held in Greece urges Irish intervention

German-born Sean Binder (24) has lived in Ireland all his life and denies trafficking charges

Fanny Binder, mother of Sean Binder, in Cork. “Sean went [to Greece] to help and to volunteer,” she says. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Fanny Binder, mother of Sean Binder, in Cork. “Sean went [to Greece] to help and to volunteer,” she says. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision


The mother of a young charity worker arrested on suspicion of human trafficking in Greece has appealed to the Irish authorities to intervene in her son’s case.

Fanny Binder says her son, Sean Binder (24), was in Lesbos to help assist refugees in a humanitarian capacity. He has denied all of the charges.

Mr Binder, from Togher in Cork, is one of three people who have been arrested in relation to the police investigation in Greece. He turned himself in to police last Tuesday after a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Mr Binder was also arrested on suspicion of money laundering, espionage and being a member of a criminal organisation.

He has been living on Lesbos and volunteering for the Emergency Response Centre International NGO since last year.

The Trinity College Dublin and London School of Economics graduate is expected to be moved tomorrow from his holding cell in a jail in Lesbos to a formal prison setting on another island.

He can be held for 30 days without charge and will be detained at the Chios Island prison.

Department of Foreign Affairs

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was unable to comment on individual cases.

“However, we can confirm we are aware of a situation involving a German citizen in Greece, the department stands ready to assist our German colleagues where appropriate.”

Ms Binder (49) appealed to the Irish authorities and politicians to intervene on behalf of her son, who is originally from Germany but has lived in Kerry and Cork since he was five.

“The problem is that he isn’t Irish. He doesn’t have citizenship. He hasn’t [an Irish passport] because we never thought it was necessary. I can understand that there is no procedure for them to influence anybody but Ireland is a small country that is very neutral but it has a big say in the European Union,” she said.

Ms Binder said the more pressure put on the Greek public and the Greek authorities the better.

“I am very frightened. If he had a broken foot I would know what to do. It is such a powerless situation and I know and everyone that knows Sean knows this is the bizarrest thing.

“Sean wrote a training programme for transparency in interorganisational training with the coastguard. He wanted transparency. And now he is in jail.”

Ms Binder told Cork’s 96FM that she has met her son twice since his detention and that he was holding up as well as he could under the circumstances.


Her son is “transparent and open”, she said.

“Sean went there to help and to volunteer. He is following what is supposed to be his career. He wanted to go and see how it is because he is very involved through his studies in human rights and the whole crisis in conflict areas because that is what he studied for six years.

“It was only natural to go and make a difference for a while and then move on with the knowledge that he gained there.”

She is concerned that her son faces up to 18 months detainment with no charges. She is worried about the visiting arrangements when he goes in to the more complex prison structure.

“I try not to think about this but worst-case scenario, he would be [facing years in prison]”.

She added that she is “frightened” for her son, who she insists was only in Lesbos to help the “most vulnerable” as they arrive on the shores of Europe.