Elin Ersson in her video that she filmed herself while on the plane
Elin Ersson in her video that she filmed herself while on the plane

A Swedish student and human rights activist famous for having grounded a Gothenburg flight in July to prevent an Afghan asylum seeker from being sent back to his home country will stand trial. The 21-year-old will be facing charges of breaking the country's aviation law.

Elin Ersson had bought a Gothenburg-Istanbul ticket specifically to try to stop the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker. She will now be standing trial for her actions. The student and activist who became a Facebook sensation for her ultimately successful attempt to temporarily halt the man's deportation by broadcasting her refusal to sit down live on Facebook may be sentenced to a fine and up to six months in jail. 


Ersson, 21, has been charged with violating aviation law and not complying with orders received from the crew and pilot, who had told her to sit down so that the plane could take off. 

Protest went viral 

''I don't want a man's life to be taken away just because you don't want to miss your flight,'' she had said. "I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane." Repeatedly told by a steward to stop filming, Ersson said that "I am doing what I can to save a person's life. As long as a person is standing up the pilot cannot take off. All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here.'' 

She had walked up and down the aisle with her cell phone in hand and challenging the Turkish Airlines crew. Eventually both she and the 52-year-old Afghan who was to have been taken back to Kabul via Istanbul were taken off the plane amid passenger applause. Some, including an entire football team, joined her protest by standing up as well. The video filmed live by the young women has been viewed over 13 million times online. 

Alongside other activists, Ersson had found out ahead of time that the flight was going to be used to deport an Afghan asylum seeker. 

'Deporting to Afghanistan can mean death' 

The Guardian reports that Ersson had taken a photo of the young Afghan that she was trying to stop the deportation of but could not find him once onboard. She nonetheless continued her protest to stop the deportation of another Afghan who was on the flight and who was later found to have a criminal record. 

The student later told Swedish media that ''the point is that he deserves to live. Deporting to a country at war like Afghanistan can mean death. If someone has committed a crime, they could be jailed and serve their time in Sweden.'' The date of her trial has not yet been set and the activist continues to insist that she did not commit any crime. Both of the Afghans were later repatriated. 
 

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