As Germany's The DW reported, Pia Klemp, a 35-year-old Bonn native, was charged in Sicily with assisting in illegal immigration before her boat was impounded in 2017.
She has been accused of helping to rescue more than 1,000 illegal immigrants at risk of drowning as they attempted to cross to Europe in search of a better life, the news outlet said.
That country’s government also has moved to ban her from sailing around the Italian coast.
The leader of Italy’s right-wing party, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, has helped change the tone in the country.
Salvini has refused to allow many humanitarian ships carrying migrants rescued at sea to make port in Italy, creating numerous standoffs while Europe haggled over which countries would give them haven.
Salvini, who has attracted the admiration of European far-right leaders for what has been seen as anti-immigrant, anti-Islam stances, makes a show of dismissing extremist labels and the existence of fascist ideology on the Italian political spectrum.
Klemp said if necessary she would take the fight to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and almost 60,000 people had signed a petition by Saturday afternoon demanding charges against her be dropped.
Her lawyer told her she is facing "up to 20 years in prison and horrendous fines."