Ian and I recently made a trip to Evia. We were with George and Anne Johnstone, who sail with us each year. We try to take them somewhere that they have not been before and this year we decided to head towards the island of Evia.
On the way we anchored for lunch in one of the bays at Cape Sounion, below the Temple of Poseidon. Ian dived on the anchor, as he normally does, to check that it was well dug in.
When he arrived back on board he was clutching something in his hand. Immediately next to our anchor he had found a passport! It was missing its back, which looked as if it had been deliberately ripped off, possibly to ensure that it sank.
The passport could not have been underwater many days as the photograph, name, and other printing could be clearly seen. It belonged to a 30 year old Iraqi called Fadhil M Amin.
This presented us with a moral dimemma. What should we do? We thought there were three possible scenarios:
a) The most likely explanation for our find was that Amin was a refugee who had come to Greece to seek a better life. In order to gain admittance he had disguised his true identity and disposed of his passport.
b) Being Iraqi, we were concerned that Amin might be a known terrrorist who had entered Greece in order to perform acts of terrorism and violence. He had got rid of his passport so that no-one would know who he was if he was caught.
c) Unfortunately there was also the possibility that poor Amin never even made it to Greece himself. There is a big, lucrative trade in illegal immigration here and every year hundreds of people are drowned trying to get to Greece in small unseaworthy boats. His passport could even have been taken off him and thrown in the sea by someone else.
Our instinct was to report our find. This is exactly what we did when we reached Kea, our next port of call. The port police came to the yacht and took the passport and full details of where it was found.
All the next day we felt a little guilty in case some poor man in a centre for immigrants was being put on a plane back to Iraq after possibly spending his life savings and risking his neck to get to Greece.
However, we could not take the risk that he might be a known terrorist and we would be possibily saving lives by letting the authorities know where he was.
There is no way we will ever know…
We have talked to others since who have said that they would just have left the passport on the seabed.
What would you have done?