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'I felt I'd been left alone': Freed Sea Watch captain criticizes Germany, Italy

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'I felt I'd been left alone': Freed Sea Watch captain criticizes Germany, Italy
At a demonstration in Cologne on Tuesday a protester holds up a "Free Carola" poster. Photo: DPA
08:20 CEST+02:00
The German captain of rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3, Carola Rackete, who was temporarily arrested for bringing migrants to Italy, on Friday strongly criticised both Rome and Berlin.

"I felt I had been left alone" after taking on board 40 migrants in the Mediterranean, she told German news weekly Der Spiegel after being released Tuesday following three days in custody.

"My impression was that nobody really wanted to help at either the national and international level," the 31-year-old was quoted as saying.

SEE ALSO: 'A big win for solidarity with refugees': German migrant rescue captain freed

"They kept passing on the hot potato while we still had 40 rescued on board," she said.

She criticised Germany's conservative interior minister, Horst Seehofer, saying he "did not feel like accepting" offers from several municipalities to take in the migrants.

Rackete, 31, was arrested after hitting a police speedboat while entering the port of the southern island of Lampedusa on Saturday in her vessel, which had been banned from docking by Italian authorities.

She argued she was compelled to avert a human tragedy and bring the migrants ashore after more than two weeks at sea.

After an Italian judge on Tuesday released Rackete, Sea Watch said she had subsequently gone into hiding pending her next court appearance because of "numerous threats".

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has taken a hard line against migrants, reacted furiously to her release and labelled her a threat to national security.

Becoming personal

"I was surprised at how personal it became," said Rackete, charging that Salvini's "way of expressing himself is disrespectful" and "not appropriate for a top politician".

She argued that the central issue was not individuals like herself but "the failure of the European Union" on migrant policy.

The 40 migrants were allowed to disembark at Lampedusa and several other EU
member states pledged to take them in.

Asked about the admiration she has earned among her supporters, Rackete said: "I have not properly digested that yet. Generally though, I am a person who prefers action to words."

 
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