Crowdfunding supports Portuguese aid-worker accused of aiding illegal immigration

A crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the defence of a young Portuguese volunteer working on a migrant-rescue ship held by authorities in Italy has succeeded in raising over double its €10,000 target.

Says Jornal de Notícias, 26 days from its deadline, the campaign launched on the HuBB (Human Beings Before Borders) platform had received pledges for the defence of Miguel Duarte, to the tune of €25,240.

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Duarte is being hailed in the national press this week for having saved “thousands of lives”.

Italian authorities do not see it this way, and are pressing ahead with charges that could see him and 10 others who carried out humanitarian missions on the impounded Iuventa facing up to 20 years in jail.

Fellow defendants in the case come from Germany, Scotland and Spain, say reports.

The situation has been aired in parliament, with foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva stressing that the government is fully behind Duarte and hopes ‘good sense will prevail’.

Santos Silva stresses Duarte’s actions were “inspired by humanitarian reasons”.

“People who save dozens and dozens of others from death in the Mediterranean should be respected for this, even if involuntarily they may be helping illegal immigration or the practice of human trafficking”, he told reporters.

“We have to have sufficient notion of things and respect sufficiently the humanitarian actions of people so that we arrive at decisions that are just”, the minister added, guaranteeing that the government would “accompany the case with care, as well as others like it”.

The crowfunding campaign meantime has grown even further. Last count last night, according to Radio Renascença, saw a total of €27,300 raised.

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