Classified Report Reveals Full Extent of Frontex Scandal

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But fundamental rights officer Arnaez has been Frontex management’s favorite bogeyman. She is compared in the messages to dictator Pol Pot, the communist mass murderer. They claim the fundamental rights officer is bringing a “Khmer Rouge”-style regime of terror to the agency. Leggeri isn’t the only official who appeared to be hindering Arnaez’s work, either. In one meeting, a Frontex staffer warned: The fundamental rights officers are “not real Frontex colleagues.”

Neither Leggeri, nor the two other Frontex employees who are the subjects of serious accusations in the OLAF report, wanted to comment when contacted by DER SPIEGEL for a response. They include Thibauld de La Haye Jousselin, Leggeri’s right-hand man, who has also since left the agency, and Dirk Vande Ryse, formerly head of Frontex’s Situational Awareness and Monitoring Division, who has been assigned to another post.

Frontex Interim Head Wants To Send Even More Officers to Aegean

The new Frontex interim head, Aija Kalnaja, would like to get all this behind her as soon as possible. She says the crucial thing is that the border agency never gets into a situation like that again. And yet it already finds itself in a similar predicament: Videos and testimonies show that new pushbacks happen in the Aegean Sea almost every day. And Frontex continues to work closely with the Greek border guards.

Kalnaja has herself stated that she has not read the OLAF report – this despite the fact that the it reveals a whole series of structural problems that don’t have anything to do with Leggeri. For example, it states that Greek border guards apparently place pressure on Frontex officials if they try to report  pushbacks, as previously reported by DER SPIEGEL. The Greeks often conceal arriving refugee boats by not recording  these “ghost landings” in the corresponding Frontex database.

Under Frontex’s own regulations, Kalnaja would be required to end an operation if there are “serious and persistent violations of fundamental rights.” The OLAF report leaves no doubt that this is the case in the Aegean. But Kalnaja isn’t even thinking about withdrawing her officials – in fact, she wants to send more staff to the Aegean. In response to a question from DER SPIEGEL, Frontex management said it “strongly believes” that the agency should strengthen its presence in the country. Greece, Frontex wrote, operates in a “very complex geopolitical environment.”

Pressure on European Commission Grows

The Olaf report also raises questions about the European Commission, which each year transfers millions of euros to Athens. The money is earmarked to help the Greeks manage migration according to EU law – not for abandoning people in life rafts without motors on the open sea.

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