Swedish Passengers Block Extradition of Man To Iran By Refusing To Fasten Their Seat Belts

220px-Airplane_seat_belt_1getbild.phpThere was an extraordinary moment on a Swedish flight this week taking off from Frösön airport in northern Sweden. The government was deporting Ghader Ghalamere back to his native Iran. A man on the flight stood up to tell the passengers about the deportation and told them not to fasten their seat belts to stop the flight. The passengers did precisely that and the flight could not take off in an extraordinary act of peaceful protest.

The passengers admitted that they did not know the back story but they did not want to stand by quietly and allow a man to be deported to a nation known for torturing and killing dissidents.

What struck me most about this amazing scene is that in the United States, the police would likely have been called and every passenger hit with some draconian penalty like a bar on flying.

Congress wrote a vague provision that can allow the broadest possible application for charging passengers in the United States:

49 U.S. Code § 46504 – Interference with flight crew members and attendants

An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

You will note that it includes simply cases where a passenger “interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant.” The Justice Department has emphasized that “A violation of 49 U.S.C. § 46504 is a general intent crime; it does not require any specific intent to intimidate or to interfere with the flight crew member or attendant. See United States v. Grossman, 131 F.3d 1449, 1451-52 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Compton, 5 F.3d 358, 360 (9th Cir. 1993); United States v. Hicks, 980 F.2d 963 (5th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 941, 507 U.S. 998 (1993); United States v. Meeker, supra, 527 F.2d at 14.”

Source: Sveriges Radio

47 thoughts on “Swedish Passengers Block Extradition of Man To Iran By Refusing To Fasten Their Seat Belts”

  1. The reason the Kurd was sent back to Iran was formal. He is married and has kids in Sweden but when he arrived here 2007 he didnt have a passport. Which is not very strange since he was a gueilla fighter for a number of years. So he has to go back to Iran to apply for a Visa. Since he has kids here he would let back in to sweden but rules are rules. The application ffor Visa has to be made from his country of origin.
    Unfortunately, ith Iranian government probably want him for being a rebel…which is a death penalty.

    The plane in question was a local plane to Stockholm.

  2. Aside from this Swedish incident I cannot understand why people can’t just board the aircraft, settle in, and keep to themselves. It isn’t that hard.

  3. Paul, There are two stories about the origin. Both come from prison and neither is funny. But two guys trying to fight while holding up their trousers is.

    1. bettykath – wish you had pics of the fight. It is not funny ha-ha, but funny peculiar. I have a visual of the fight and a big smile on my face. 😀

  4. The captain dealing with the baggy pants was correct in calling the guy forward. The F/A shouldn’t have used her/his own fashion sense on a passenger. The captain was correct in backing up his F/A by talking with the guy. The conversation could have defused the situation. Instead of allowing a win/win to develop, the guy refused to talk with the captain. The win/win would be the captain taking action based on the F/A complaint, the guy being able to wear his trousers at half-mast, or not, after having it explained that he would be at a disadvantage in an emergency situation.

    The only good news I can think of for the half-mast trousers is that these young men are concerned about having, and wearing, nice underwear. 🙂 It sure doesn’t help them in a fight. I watched two guys trying to fight, seriously, on a street corner. No damage was done. They each had one hand trying to hold up their pants, sometimes not successfully. I was laughing so hard I had to pull over.

    1. bettykath – if you knew the origin of this fashion statement, it would be even funnier. 🙂

  5. @Paul Schulte “I would take the position that the young man with the sagging pants constituted a safety risk in case the flight had to evacuate.”

    What about the twenty year old girl with eight inch platform heals? What about the 5’3″, 280 pound man who had to forcefully wedge himself into the seat? What about the man sweating profusely with a doctors note saying he suffers from pteromerhanophobia? Once you start deeming passengers unsafe for evacuation, where does it end? I’ve boarded a plane on crutches with a severely sprained ankle. I was much more of an evacuation hazard than a kid with baggy pants.

    Is it really worth emptying a plane full of passengers and delaying a flight for hours because some flight attendant having a bad day gets in a snit because his or her sensibilities are offended?

    1. Simms – the twenty year old with the 5 inch heels would have been invited into the cockpit and they are easy to get off. Airlines have extender seatbelts for your over-weight man and they probably would have given him an inside seat. Hopefully your pteromerhanophobia patient also has a pocket full of Xanax and has taken a few to get started (depending on the length of the flight). Fear of flying is very common and f/as are trained to deal with it. If the airline has a ‘no sagging’ policy they can certainly enforce it.

    2. simms I see that you refuse to admit the fact that the kid was not kicked off the plane for his pants or his fashion statement. He was kicked off for refusal to follow the captains order to come to the front of the plane to talk with him, and then refused the captains order to leave the plane. The passenger is NOT in his home or on his property. He is subject all the reasonable orders of ALL of the flight crew. Failure to follow them or to listen, will be sufficient cause to kick you off.

      I even know of one captain, who kicked off Frank Lorenzo from his flight. The captain has that authority. Diminishing that authority results in a reduction of safety. On board any vessel, it is not an option for the passengers to question orders, nor are they open for discussion. Once you are off the vessel, you are free to do or say anything you may wish.

      1. Wasn’t Alec Baldwin kicked off for refusing to stop playing Words with Friends?

  6. We have very selective memories. Anyone remember when the US shot down an Iranian passenger plane killing 290 people, including 66 children? 1988 or so…

    1. waldo – I remember the incident of the passenger plane being shot down. Despite repeated calls to the plane to veer off, it invaded the safety space of the ship, which then and only then, shot it down.

  7. Clarifying: I didn’t mean to say that randyjet has attitudes. I meant the young man with sagging pants in the plane.

  8. I don’t often find myself in agreement with Paul Shulte, but I admit that I’ve told my students they need to have their pants pulled up, their hands and arms out of their sleeves. I demonstrate to them that it is unsafe. Living in California we often have fire and earthquake drills. My first job as a teacher is to keep students safe. Oh, and I don’t think that randyjet is a racist. Some people just have attitudes and that comes in all colors.

    1. Els DL – my teaching contract always said my first job was to teach them. 😉

  9. Unless I’m mistaken, passengers are required to be seated for the most part, in which case the saggy pants would be a moot issue. Besides, had the gentleman warn boxers without trousers, there would have been no issue presuming his parts were secured.

    All this involves is a power-play by Mr Pilot to impress/hit-on the female F/A. A dead-head encounter explains a lot.

  10. its amazing isnt it. anyone remember last summer how the young black lady was thrown off the plane for wearing a long teeshirt which covered her shorts? or the 2 brothers also black who were asked to remove their hoodies? yet during that same week on the very same airline a white man was allowed to fly wearing womens lingerie?

    im sure randyjet doesnt remember those.. so heres my question randyjet.. how was the black mans pants hanging below his butt interfering with the captains job of flying the plane?

    the only answer i can come up with is the captain will be so distracted by imagining what is under those sagging pants that he wouldnt be able to keep his mind on flying….. otherwise your post makes no sense at all…. just as no one has a right to tell YOU what to say, how to say it, or where to say it…

    the captain has no right telling anyone what to wear. unless said outfit will cause disruption to captain and attendants and the only way that could possibly be is because they apparently cant keep their mind on their job. at which point I WOULDNT WANT TO BE A PLANE THEY ARE FLYING….

    1. shakingmyhead – I would take the position that the young man with the sagging pants constituted a safety risk in case the flight had to evacuate. I never taught at a school where we allowed it (always throwing the safety issue out as our excuse to the parents).

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