Swedish student who stopped deportation flight of Afghan asylum seeker to be prosecuted

Activist accused of violating ‘aviation law’ by refusing to sit down on plane

Adam Forrest
Friday 19 October 2018 22:46 BST
Swedish student single-handedly prevents deportation of Afghan asylum seeker by refusing to sit down on flight

Authorities in Sweden are set to prosecute a 21-year-old student who refused to sit down on a passenger plane in protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker who was also on board.

Elin Ersson single-handedly managed to stop the deportation on the 23 July flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul, due to take the 52-year-old man out of the country.

Footage of her defiant stand in defence of the Afghan man has notched up 13 million views online and earned her international praise.

But the Swedish prosecutor’s office announced on Friday that the activist will be charged with “violations of aviation law,” according to Swedish media.

Ms Ersson is accused of repeatedly refusing to obey orders from the pilot and aircraft crew.

Police have previously said passengers who do not obey a pilot’s commands while onboard a plane can face up to six months in jail and a fine.

She will be tried at Gothenburg district court, but no court date has yet been set.

Ms Ersson’s live-streamed video of the July incident showed her demanding the pilot exercise his right to refuse to take off while a deportee is on board.

Despite shouts of “sit down, we want to go” from those around her, some passengers began to voice their support of her protest.

“I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just so you don’t miss a flight,” Ersson said.

Passengers finally erupted in applause as the Afghan man, three security personnel and Ms Ersson were disembarked from the plane. She was later interviewed by police.

In Facebook posts written after her protest, Ms Ersson claimed “no laws were broken”.

Sweden has maintained a strict policy on the removal of asylum seekers.

In 2017, more than 9,000 rejected asylum seekers were ordered to leave the country by the Swedish Migration Agency.

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