Swedish student who went viral for protesting deportation of asylum seeker faces 14 days in jail

Elin Ersson made headlines last year when she refused to let a plane take off.

BELGRADE -- The Swedish student who refused to take her seat on a plane in an effort to prevent the deportation of a rejected asylum-seeker is facing two weeks in prison for violating air traffic regulations.

Elin Ersson, 21, is accused of violating the Swedish Aviation Act after recording herself refusing to sit down as the Turkish Airlines flight was preparing for takeoff from Landvetter Airport in Gothenburg in July 2018. Ersson’s lawyer, Thomas Fridh, is contesting the allegations on the basis that the law only applies when given orders by the pilot, not the cabin crew.

“Elin’s actions on the plane did not violate any laws,” Fridh told ABC News. “She was told to sit down by the crew and not the pilot. During the entire action, she was prepared to follow actions of the captain of the plane, and she left as soon as pilot decided that she should leave.”

Furthermore, the “Swedish Aviation Act applied only to actions in the air or moving on the ground,” he added.

James von Reis, the prosecutor on the case, has argued for jail time, asking the judge at Gothenburg District Court to put Ersson in for 14 days if she is found guilty. The written ruling is due on February 18.

Von Reis did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Ersson, a student activist, filmed the standoff on July 23.

On this plane, she said, there is a person "who is going to be deported to Afghanistan, where there is a war and he is going to be killed."

"I am doing what I can to save a person's life," she added, as impatient passengers and crewmembers yelled at her.

The pilot allowed Ersson and the Afghan refugee to disembark. Some of the passengers applauded.

It was discovered later that the refugee Ersson had protested for wasn't who she thought he was.

Ersson had originally planned on stopping the deportation of a 21-year-old Afghan friend whose asylum application had been rejected. However, when she arrived at the airport, she was told he had already departed. She had purchased a ticket for a flight where a different man was being deported.

The 52-year-old man, named only as Bismallah S. in court proceedings, had served time inside a prison for assault. Swedish police denied that his criminal history affected the rejection of his asylum application. Bismallah S. was eventually deported from Sweden, landing in Kabul on Aug. 30, 2018, according to the Afghan Refugee Ministry.

The 14-minute-long video Ersson shot on the plane quickly went viral worldwide.