Out Swedish Footballer Saved From Life-Threatening Deportation

An openly gay Swedish pro footballer may have had his life saved when his deportation to Liberia was suspended just hours before his flight back was meant to leave.

Last week, Andrew Nagbe made headlines after an arrest at Stockholm Pride landed him in a detention center, with the intention of being held until his deportation. Nagbe’s safety, after catching the attention of local authorities, would have been seriously jeopardized had he returned to Liberia.

But on Tuesday, just hours before Nagbe was set to fly to Liberia, the Swedish Migration Board halted his deportation, announcing that his case would be re-opened. While the board holds that the introduction of new documents make his case for a resident permit more pertinent, the loads of international media attention may have played a significant role, too, says Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

“His case has received international attention, including from the BBC, and his sexuality is now even better known in Liberia,” says Stig-Åke Petersson, Nagbe’s representative and refugee officer at Swedish LGBTQ rights organization UNHCR.

“After all that has happened, I don’t dare to have any idea about it,” Petersson told the newspaper about Nagbe’s odds at having his deportation thrown out entirely. “But given that they cancelled the trip, the chances increased.”

Today, Nagbe awaits a new decision from the Swedish Migration Board, with his future hanging in the balance. In the interim, he remains in the detention center, but his legal counsel, Ali Kassim, will argue to have Nagbe freed until a final decision can be made.

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