Story of Man Who Fled Prison in Iceland Gets Weirder

It wasn't illegal, and he likely shouldn't have been in custody anyway
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2018 11:48 AM CDT
This 2014 photo made available by the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police shows Sindri Thor Stefansson.   (The Reykjavik Metropolitan Police via AP)

(Newser) – That an inmate escaped from an Iceland prison and fled the country on a plane that Iceland's prime minister happened to be aboard turns out to not be the wildest part of Sindri Stefansson's story. The 31-year-old is suspected of being one of a group of thieves who stole $2 million worth of computer servers used to mine bitcoin; he was arrested in early February, escaped to Sweden in mid-April, and spent five days on the lam in various countries. He's due to be extradited to Iceland Friday, and in his first interview since he was apprehended in Amsterdam, he tells the New York Times how easy it was to escape: Prisoners at Sogn can have phones, and he simply used his to look up flights the night before he fled. And here's the twist: The Times reports it's not illegal to bust out of prison in Iceland.

As a former Icelandic Supreme Court judge explains: "Our system supposes that a person who has been deprived of his freedom will try to regain it. It's the responsibility of prison authorities to keep him there." And whether Stefansson should have even been in custody is up for debate: His custody order expired right before he escaped. He says police convinced him to sign a document that voluntarily extended his stay while a judge weighed whether to legally extend it. After giving his signature, he changed his mind. He says he didn't think police would look for him because of the looseness of the situation. The Reykjavik Grapeview reports police will now decide whether to keep him in custody in Iceland or just impose a travel ban. Another weird factoid from the Times: Authorities haven't been able to find the stolen computers, though they've even followed a psychic's advice in their hunt for them.

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