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She Refused to Sit on a Plane, Stopped a Man's Deportation

Swedish student Elin Ersson bought a ticket, caused a ruckus til officials took Afghan man off
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2018 5:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Swedish student took a stand—literally—against an Afghan man's deportation from her country, and it worked, at least temporarily. Asylum activist Elin Ersson learned the man was to be flown to Istanbul from Gothenburg and then on to Kabul and bought a ticket for that same Monday flight. She boarded and began a campaign in support of the 52-year-old asylum seeker. At some point she began live-streaming her effort. "I don't want a man's life to be taken away just because you don't want to miss your flight," she says in what BuzzFeed News reports is a 14-minute video that's been viewed 2.4 million times. "I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane," she says, repeatedly telling the flight attendant she won't quit, even as he calls her unruly and continually tells her to turn off her phone.

Ersson didn't waver, saying the pilot could not depart so long as she was standing, that her actions were legal, and that the pilot had the power to order the man removed from the plane. The Washington Post reports things got heated, with a passenger at one point grabbing for her phone; a flight attendant returned it. The Guardian has more from her: "I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan. I am trying to change my country’s rules, I don't like them. It is not right to send people to hell." Some passengers clapped; others stood with her, and the Afghan man and the security personnel accompanying him ultimately deplaned. Deutsche Welle reports authorities still plan to deport the man, and adds that Ersson could face fines or jail time for refusing a pilot's orders, though it's unclear whether any action will be taken. One Facebook commenter called her "our Young Swedish hero!!" (Read more deportation stories.)

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