Swedish court extends US rapper's detention as Trump tweets

Johannes LEDEL
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ASAP Rocky has been detained in Stockholm since July 3, sparking a social media campaign for his release

ASAP Rocky has been detained in Stockholm since July 3, sparking a social media campaign for his release (AFP Photo/Patrick KOVARIK)

Stockholm (AFP) - A Stockholm court on Friday extended US rapper ASAP Rocky's detention while an investigation is completed into an alleged assault during a street brawl, as President Donald Trump said his administration was in talks with Sweden over the arrest.

Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have campaigned for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest shortly on July 3 following the fight on June 30.

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.

Facing a July 19 deadline on whether to press charges, the prosecutor requested a week-long extension to finish the probe, which the court granted, setting a new date of July 25 at 11 am (0900 GMT).

"The suspect will until then remain in detention," the court said.

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

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 A$AP Rocky's incarceration."

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

- 'Very disappointed' -

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.

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.

Part of the incident was captured on amateur video published by entertainment outlet TMZ.

In the video, the rapper, who was in Stockholm for a concert, can be seen throwing one of the men into the street and then aiming several punches at him while he is down.

But Mayers posted his own videos on Instagram showing the lead-up to the clash, in which the young man can be seen arguing with the rapper, who repeatedly asks the man and his friend to stop following them.

One of the young men can also been seen hitting a member of the artist's entourage.

According to the Swedish Prosecution Authority a separate investigation into assault and harassment committed by the plaintiffs is ongoing.

- #FreeRocky -

Mayers' jailing has triggered outrage from artists, fans, US lawmakers and both rapper West and his wife Kim Kardashian, who appealed to the White House concerning the matter.

"Thank you @realDonaldTrump , @SecPompeo, Jared Kushner & everyone involved with the efforts to Free ASAP Rocky & his two friends. Your commitment to justice reform is so appreciated," tweeted Kardashian, who over the past year has championed criminal justice issues.

An online petition called #JusticeForRocky has garnered more than 600,000 signatures, and posters emblazoned with "Free ASAP Rocky ASAP" have been put up around Stockholm.

Artists including Post Malone, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and Justin Bieber voiced their support for Mayers, with rapper Tyler, the Creator saying he would no longer perform in Sweden.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch met the rapper in Stockholm on Friday, the TT news agency reported, and he is scheduled to meet representatives of Sweden's foreign ministry.

Former US ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that he had contacted the country's foreign ministry and the Swedish royal family, calling the rapper's arrest a matter of "racial injustice".

Sweden's foreign ministry responded by saying that the country's justice system was independent from the government.