Awkward truth behind ‘heroic’ protest
A STUDENT who was branded a "hero" and captured worldwide attention after she stopped the deportation of an Afghan migrant by refusing to sit down on a plane, instead prevented the extradition of a man sentenced for assault and whose asylum application was rejected.
Fox News reported Elin Ersson, a Swedish student at Gothenburg University, was subjected to fawning media coverage over her stunt earlier this month when she refused to take her seat on the plane until the 52-year-old Afghan deportee was released.
She was successful and authorities weren't able to deport the man.
However, Swedish Police confirmed to Fox News the man whose deportation Ms Ersson prevented had received a prison sentence in Sweden for assault. The police spokesman declined to go into more details about the crime the migrant has committed. His asylum application was also rejected.
A representative for Ms Ersson declined Fox News' request for a comment.
One of the largest newspapers in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, reported last week as well that the man was sentenced for assault. The man will still eventually be deported, though the date remains unknown, the newspaper reported.
Despite lacking information about the man who was being deported, most media organisations jumped on the story, with the Washington Post calling Ms Ersson's stunt a "dramatic act of civil disobedience" while Newsweek magazine described the student as a "hero".
CNN, meanwhile, spoke with Swedish authorities who confirmed that it was "forced deportation", yet the outlet didn't reveal why the man faced deportation.
The Swedish student live streamed the whole incident and it was viewed nearly five million times on Facebook alone.
In the video, she's heard saying "there is a man who is going to get deported to Afghanistan, where he will most likely get killed" and the she won't "sit down until this person is off the plane".
"I am doing what I can to save a person's life," she continues. "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. This is all perfectly legal, and I have not committed a crime."
An annoyed passenger tried to grab the phone from Ms Ersson, saying she's upsetting others. To which the student replied: "It's not my fault that he's getting deported. I'm trying to stop this. I'm trying to change my country's rules. I don't like them. It's not right to send people to hell."