ASAP Rocky's congressman joins forces with congressional leaders to call for the rapper's release

Swedish prosecutors tell ABC News that the rapper's next hearing is on July 19.

July 17, 2019, 6:46 PM

Hip-hop artist A$AP Rocky has been detained in a Swedish prison since July 2 -- following a June 30 street fight that broke out in Stockholm -- and with Hollywood and hip-hop already rallying behind the rapper, he is also now getting support on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat who represents New York’s 13th Congressional District -- which includes Harlem, where A$AP Rocky hails from -- told ABC News on Wednesday that he visited the rapper's mother on Sunday and has been in touch with the families of the three men. Two other performers who were with the rapper that night, Bladimir Corniel and David Rispers, were also detained.

"Young people on social media in particular have been commenting on the arrest and there's whole movement out there, a petition that over 600,000 people signed," Espaillat said at a Wednesday press conference, adding the his constituents have been calling his offices to express concern over the rapper's case.

Espaillat was joined at a Wednesday press conference by Congressional Black Caucus members Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. André Carson (D-IN) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX). The lawmakers said that the three men are being held in "solitary confinement," suggested that they are being treated unfairly and urged the U.S. State Department and the U.S. and Swedish embassies to do more to facilitate the trio's release.

"We are calling on Secretary Pompeo to do more," Espaillat said of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "This is not enough. It is unconscionable that young men that are doing well, they are on the right track in life, they're very successful, they're icons in the hip-hop community, are treated under these inhumane conditions."

But he also added that "the State Department has been responsive" and has notified his staff that Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch is en route to Sweden right now and plans to be there for the rapper's next hearing, which is scheduled for the morning of Friday, July 19.

The State Dept. announced on Wednesday that Risch is traveling to Sweden, but did not specify the reason for his travel.

"We are following this case closely," a State Department official told ABC News on Wednesday when asked if the department has had any contact with the rapper of his representatives. "One of the most important tasks of the Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens who are detained abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have nothing further to share at this time."

PHOTO: A$AP Rocky performs at Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre in Denver, Colorado, April 20, 2015.
A$AP Rocky performs at Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre in Denver, Colorado, April 20, 2015.
Seth Mcconnell/Denver Post via Getty Images, FILE

A$AP Rocky -- whose given name is Rakim Mayers -- is part of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob, and was in Sweden as part of the European leg of his tour

The rapper is “suspected of aggravated assault,” according to a press release posted to the website of the Stockholm prosecutor's office and translated from Swedish to English by ABC News. Last week, the rapper's original attorney, Henrik Olsson Lilja, said that the hip-hop star and his companions were acting in self-defense.

ABC News confirmed with the rapper's Swedish press representative that Mayers has a new attorney, Sloban Jovicic, but he is currently not commenting on the case ahead of the hearing, according to the press representative.

It remains unclear what will unfold at Friday's hearing. A spokeswoman for the Swedish prosecutor’s office outlined three possible scenarios to ABC News on Wednesday,

“On Friday there are three scenarios that could take place," she said. "The prosecutor could request to dismiss the charges, [or] second, press charges, or the prosecutor could request more time for their investigation,” she said.

Espaillat said in response to a reporter's question that he believes that the trio's treatment in the Swedish detention center may be related to their race.

"I think that race matters," he said. "It plays a factor across the world and I think that it may have played a factor as well in Stockholm, Sweden."

Swedish Prosecutor General Petra Lundh refuted that suggestion, telling Swedish media this week that the case prosecutor “has acted in the same way during this investigation as in other investigations in making independent decisions."

At an earlier court hearing, Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Karlsson requested Mayers be remanded, arguing that the rapper is a flight risk.

Following news of A$AP Rocky's arrest, the gossip website TMZ published a one-minute video on July 1 that appears to show the rapper and his companions kicking and punching two men, but what preceded that brief video clip remains unclear.

A$AP Rocky posted two videos on Instagram on July 2 that appear to show him and his companions being followed by the same two men, with one of the men appearing to swing his headphones at the rapper’s bodyguard.

In the video, Mayer can be heard repeatedly asking the men to stop following them. At one point, he tries to talk to the men, telling them that he doesn’t want to fight.

A petition urging the rapper’s release was shared by celebrities and artists from all corners of the hip-hop world and has garnered more than 600,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

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