As passengers know, a plane cannot take off until all on board have taken their seats and buckled their seat belts. On Monday, a young Swedish activist named Elin Ersson used that rule to keep a flight carrying a 52-year-old Afghan man being deported to Kabul from taking off in Gothenburg.
The flight was scheduled to travel to Istanbul where the man was to be transferred to another plane to Afghanistan. With everyone else on the plane seated, the young Swede took out her cellphone and began livestreaming video on Facebook. She then proceeded to film herself speaking in English as she walked through the plane, explaining that the man was being deported to Afghanistan, “where he will most likely get killed.”
As the video began, one could hear flight personnel ordering her to sit down, as well as angry passengers doing the same. Another flight attendant called for her to turn off the phone and take her, seat which she once again refused to do. Ersson insisted that she was not doing anything illegal, adding that as soon as the Afghan was taken off the plane she would follow the pilot’s orders.
At one point, an English passenger chided her for her action and attempted to take her phone away, saying she was scaring the other passengers. About half way through the 14-minute video, other passengers began to join her in the protest. Among the cries of a number of children, she was told that the man would be let off the plane and she would also be removed by airport security.
Ersson protested Swedish deportation policy with a group of 25 other activists before boarding the plane. Her video was clicked more than 1.9 million times in the last 24 hours and she has been applauded by many for her civil courage. Critics have called her selfish for singlehandedly making a decision on the country’s deportation stance.
Despite the young woman’s claims that she had done nothing wrong, Swedish authorities see the matter differently. Police pointed out that passengers who refuse to obey a pilot’s orders while on board a plane can face fines or up to six months in jail.
Authorities also said the Afghan man was in custody and would be deported, though they did not say when.
This article originally appeared on DW.com. Its content was created separately to USA TODAY.
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