Salvini claimed the captain of the ship, Arturo Centore, had entered Italian waters illegally, and Sea-Watch countered that he only did so after several of those rescued threatened to kill themselves if they were not allowed to disembark in Italy.
Sea-Watch spokesman Ruben Neugebauer said, "Such situations must be taken seriously, these people are desperate."
The ship was ultimately allowed to dock in Licata, Sicily. On Friday, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, head of the Council of Protestant Churches in Germany, flew to Sicily to visit crew members.
"Allowing people to drown in the Mediterranean or sending them back to gruesome camps in Libya is not an option for Europe," Bedford-Strohm said. "The dying must stop."
Sea-Watch spokesman Neugebauer said that between five and 10 migrant vessels have been sighted on the Mediterranean every day in recent weeks. "There have been several deaths, because, among other things, the Italian navy has refused to help even though ships were nearby," he said.