Swedish Student Who Tried to Stop Man’s Deportation to Afghanistan Is Indicted

By Zachary Stieber

Elin Ersson, the 21-year-old Swedish student who tried to stop an asylum seeker from being deported to Afghanistan, was indicted on Oct. 19, over her failed attempt to stop a flight from Gothenburg to Turkey in July.

Ersson, a student at the University of Gothenburg, livestreamed herself on Facebook refusing for approximately 15 minutes to sit down on the plane, as fellow passengers and flight attendants told her to be seated so the flight could depart.

She claimed that a 52-year-old man was going to be deported to Afghanistan, “where he most likely will be killed.” She also discussed a younger man being deported, holding up a picture of him at one point, but later learned that he wasn’t on the flight, so she began protesting the older man’s removal.

“I’m trying to change my countries’ rules. I don’t like them,” she added later.

Near the end of the video, which was approximately 15 minutes long, she said: “I have not committed a crime.” The footage was viewed more than five million times.

Indictment

The indictment was filed in a district court in Gothenburg and stated that Ersson would be prosecuted “for crimes against the aviation law,” reported the Guardian.

Prosecutors said that she didn’t comply with the captain’s request and repeatedly refused to sit down so the flight could leave.

“She did so with the intention of preventing the plane from departing,” James von Reis, one of the prosecutors, told Swedish news outlet Svenska Dagbladet.

She faces up to six months in prison if convicted.

Ersson’s lawyer, Thomas Fridh, told the New York Times that his client didn’t violate any laws. “During the entire action she was prepared to follow the orders of the captain on board, and she left the plane as soon as the pilot decided that she should do so,” he claimed.

Ersson added that she was just trying to protest the deportation.

Protest Gone Wrong

Ersson, an activist, was alerted to the scheduled deportation of two men, the 52-year-old man, and a 26-year-old named Ismail Khawari. She tried to pinpoint which flight would be deporting them and bought a ticket for that flight.

But the younger man, Khawari, was not on the flight, reported Deutsche Welle.

Khawari ended up being deported the following day.

The 52-year-old man, meanwhile, had been convicted of battery and was being deported after serving two years in prison.