Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Donald Trump says he's trying to secure rapper ASAP Rocky's release from Swedish prison

The president said he had spoken to Kanye West about the case and planned to call Sweden's leader

In this file photo taken on October 29, 2016, recording artist ASAP Rocky attends the LACMA Art + Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles. AFP
In this file photo taken on October 29, 2016, recording artist ASAP Rocky attends the LACMA Art + Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles. AFP

US President Donald Trump has said that he is to lobby Sweden for the release of American rapper ASAP Rocky, who was detained after an altercation in Stockholm.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Mr Trump told journalists that "we are going to be calling, we'll be talking to them. We've already started."

"Many, many members of the African American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, 'Could you help?' So I personally don't know ASAP Rocky, but I can tell you that he has tremendous support from the African American community in this country," he said.

His wife Melania added: "We are working with the State Department and we hope to get him home soon."

Shortly thereafter Trump tweeted that he had just spoken to rapper Kanye West about "his friend ASAP Rocky's incarceration."

"I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping ASAP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!"

The tweet came after a Swedish court extended his detention on Friday as an investigation into the alleged assault continues.

The rapper has claimed he was acting in self-defense after two young men harassed and followed him and his entourage.

Three other people were arrested alongside Mayer and one of them – the rapper's bodyguard – was later released.

The Stockholm District Court had ordered that Mayers be kept in custody while the case was under investigation, as he was considered a flight risk.

Prosecutor Daniel Suneson welcomed the court's approval of the extension, saying: "Now we'll have time to complete the investigation."

But Mayers' lawyer Slobodan Jovicic called the decision disproportionate, arguing that it was unreasonable to assume Mayers was a "flight risk" since not returning for a potential trial could mean that the rapper, fearing arrest, would have to avoid Europe.

Jovicic also voiced confidence that if the case went to trial, Mayers would be acquitted and allowed to return home.

Ohio pastor Darrell Scott, a black longtime Trump supporter who has worked with the administration on urban justice issues, said he was among those who raised the issue with Trump last Friday night after ASAP Rocky's management reached out for assistance.

"We know that this is a high priority for the president and the State Department, at the instruction of the president," said Kareem Lanier, co-chair of the Urban Revitalisation Coalition who credited the White House with ensuring ASAP Rocky was moved to better holding conditions.

Both Mr Lanier and Mr Scott rejected the idea that Mr Trump was calling attention to the issue to distract from criticism of his attacks against four Democratic congresswomen of color, noting the administration had been working on the issue before the latest brouhaha.

They applauded Mr Trump for shining attention on the issue.

"Any time President Trump gets involved in anything, it brings a level of attention" to an issue that cannot be matched by those who "don't have that cache or reach," Mr Lanier said.

Updated: July 20, 2019 10:43 AM

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