A Swedish student managed to stop a man from being deported to Afghanistan on Monday simply by refusing to sit down on the plane she had boarded.
Elin Ersson staged a protest on the plane, which ended when she successfully got the man removed from the flight.
The plane from the Swedish city of Gothenburg was headed for Turkey, where the man would be connected to an onward flight back to Afghanistan, where Ersson insisted the man would “most likely be killed”.
The young woman filmed her protest on her phone and streamed it live to Facebook, where it has since been viewed more than 2.3 million times.
In the 14-minute video, Ersson explains that “as long as a person is standing up the pilot cannot take off”.
“I am doing what I can to save a person’s life.
“All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here.”
The clip shows Ersson calmly argue with cabin staff who try to get her to turn off her phone and sit down. She says that some passengers appeared to be standing up in support, while others can be heard urging the woman, who breaks down in tears at one point, to sit down.
But her persistence paid off when she was told that the pilot had instructed staff to remove the man from the plane, at which point Ersson agreed to leave – as long as she saw him exit. Passengers can be heard cheering before she films herself leaving the plane.
Despite Ersson’s insistence the protest was “perfectly legal”, refusing to comply with a pilot’s instructions can result in a fine and even jail time in Sweden, German media company Deutsche Welle reports. It is not yet known if she will be charged.
It is not clear why the man was being deported, but Swedish authorities have confirmed that he was still in custody and would be deported at a later date.