A$AP Rocky's Swedish Prison Is Sanitary, Has Private TV, Desk & Bed, Official Says

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
A$AP Rocky attends the Pre-Grammy Gala And Salute To Industry Icons on Feb. 9, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

A criminology professor in Stockholm also dismisses allegations of racist treatment of the rapper, who is now in his third week of detention.

OSLO — As U.S. celebrities continue to lobby to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish detention, an official at the prison where the rapper is being held defended conditions at the newly renovated facility, calling into question reports of inhumane treatment there.

A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, is in his third week of pre-trial detention in a Swedish prison, accused of assaulting a man on the street in Stockholm. Since being arrested by Swedish police earlier this month, he has been held in a cell while authorities investigate his case. The rapper says he acted in self-defense.

Unconfirmed media reports have said Rocky was being subjected to inhumane conditions in prison, including having to sleep on a yoga mat while other inmates were hurling feces around the room.

Anette Skeppar-Forström, deputy governor at the Kronoberg remand prison where Rocky currently is held, said she could not comment on the treatment of individual prisoners. But she said the newly renovated prison is in “good condition,” and has cells with beds and mattresses, a desk and a private TV. At Kronoberg, inmates also have access to books and radio, and are allowed to spend up to five hours a day socializing with other prisoners, she added.

“If someone spills their food, has any type of accident or hurts themselves [in a way] which might cause blood, we immediately sanitize, using a professional cleaning company,” Skeppar-Forström said.

Jerzy Sarnecki, a criminology professor at Stockholm University, said he had been to a number of prisons in the U.S. and in Sweden and that he was convinced the conditions in Sweden were “much more humane in general.” He said he agreed, however, with critics who support broad reform of the country's detention system, which he called “too severe.”

“It is not very fun to sit in Swedish detention,” Sarnecki said, adding that Sweden is criticized by many international organizations for its extensive use of pre-trial detention -- the country's system of detaining suspected criminals while they await trial.

Rocky's detention has caused a major stir in the U.S. Celebrities and members of Congress alike have accused Sweden's government of racism and human rights abuses for the rapper's alleged treatment, with President Donald Trump wading into the dispute and personally vouching for his bail. Even Swedish pop singer Zara Larsson has supported racism claims on Instagram.

Sarnecki said he was “absolutely convinced that this is not a case of racism at all.” Rocky, he said, would not be “treated badly because he's black or for other unusual reasons. He was put in detention because the prosecutor and the court must prevent the risk of his escape.”

“Of course we have problems with racism in Sweden as in most other countries,” he added, “but that Swedish prosecutors or courts should act racist in such a case is very unlikely.”

According to Sarnecki, the man Rocky allegedly assaulted was not Swedish, but from Afghanistan, which in his opinion shows the improbability of officials having a racial motivation for the arrest.

“There is no reason for people in this country to treat people from the U.S. -- even if they are black -- worse than someone from Afghanistan,” he said. 

Court officials on Wednesday would not confirm the man’s nationality, and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven last week told President Trump in a 20-minute phone call that A$AP Rocky would not get any special treatment, according to an official statement. In Sweden, “everyone is equal before the law," Mr. Löfven said in the statement, adding that the government "cannot and will not" attempt to influence the legal proceedings.

Trump has demanded Rocky's release after being publicly urged to do so by numerous celebrities, such as rapper Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian.

Unlike the U.S., Sweden does not have a bail system.

A new court hearing is scheduled in Stockholm Thursday to determine whether Rocky should be detained further.

Slobodan Jovicic, a lawyer for the rapper, was not immediately available for comment.


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