News and Commentary

Trump Again Demands Sweden Release Rapper A$AP Rocky. Sweden Responds.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump again called for Sweden to release rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been in prison in the country for nearly a month.

“Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States. I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky, and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly! #FreeRocky” Trump tweeted. In a follow-up tweet, he said the prime minister wasn’t “really unable to act” but that “he just doesn’t want to, especially since it angers you.”

“Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky” Trump tweeted a few minutes later.

Rocky was arrested earlier this month after he and his entourage were accused of attacking two men in Sweden. Video initially published by TMZ showed Rocky throwing one of the men to the ground. Additional footage posted that same day by Rocky himself showed the two men had been stalking and harassing the rapper and his entourage for several blocks. Rocky’s bodyguard told the men to stop following them several times. At one point one of the men threw his headphones at the bodyguard. They shattered, and the men followed Rocky and demanded his bodyguard replace their headphones.

Trump and the State Department have been working to free Rocky, according to the rapper’s attorney Alan Jackson.

“President Trump has made bringing home unjustly held Americans a top priority for his administration. The State Department’s interest in the case gives us great hope for Rocky’s situation,” Jackson said.

Trump has also tweeted support for the rapper and said he would call Sweden’s prime minister. After the call, Trump said he was assured that Rocky would “be treated fairly.” Subsequent discussions, however, have not resulted in Rocky’s freedom.

Business Insider reporter John Haltiwanger received a statement from Mikael Lindstrom, press secretary for Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

“All I can say at this point, is that Sweden and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have explained and emphasized the complete independence of the Swedish judicial system, prosecutors and courts,” Lindstrom said. “In Sweden everyone is equal before the law. The Government is not allowed, and will not attempt, to influence the legal proceedings, which are now ongoing.”

Court documents obtained by The Associated Press include photos of the injuries to the alleged victim, Mustafa Jafari, whose attorney claimed he did not provoke the assault. The attorney, Magnus Stromberg, claimed one of Rocky’s bodyguards grabbed his client “by the neck and dragged him away.”

The situation officially became a 2020 campaign issue when Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) criticized Trump’s intervention on behalf of the rapper. Harris was asked if Trump misused his power when doing so. Harris avoided directly referencing Rocky, but spoke broadly about Trump’s overreach.

“There is no question that this White House has been playing politics with [Trump’s] role of leadership and it has to end,” Harris said after stumbling at first.

When she was asked a follow-up question redirecting her to the Rocky case and asking if Trump specifically misused his power in that case, Harris said “Yes.”