No Captain, no sailing. That seems to be the latest situation for the 'Audacity of Hope,' as it attempts to join a Freedom to Gaza flotilla aimed at breaking the coastal blockade of Gaza.
The American citizen and captain of this vessel, John Klusmire is accused of disobeying Greek authorities and putting all of his passengers in jeopardy. He was asked to report to Piraeus police headquarters on Saturday and will remain there until his court hearing on Tuesday. He is facing charges of trying to leave port without permission and endangering the lives of the boat's passengers. The second indictment would be a felony. One of the American organizers of the flotilla, Jane Hirschmann, added that Klusmire is also being charged with disturbing sea traffic. "This is intimidation... They're making an example of our captain to stop other boats in the flotilla from trying to sail."
On Friday night, the Audacity of Hope attempted to sail out of Perama Port, near Athens, with 36 passengers, four crewmembers and about 10 representatives of the media. They were prevented from leaving by the coast guard who came up on them in speedboats. There was about a three-hour standoff with the crew during which time the activists waved signs, chanted and sang songs, all in support of their mission. Finally, an armed Greek military commando team arrived in an inflatable boat and demanded the vessel follow them back to port or face being boarded.
The 'Audacity of Hope' is now sitting at a Greek naval facility. The Greek authorities have ordered the four crewmembers to remain on board, while some of the activist passengers will remain to show their continued support.
These events have been punctuated with the Greek government stating that it will not allow any of the remaining nine boats in the flotilla to sail from their ports because their mission to Gaza is too dangerous. Of course, supporters of this flotilla are claiming that Greece has crumpled under the pressure from the Israeli government, while critics are claiming it is preventing unnecessary provocation to bring 'aid' where it is no longer needed.