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A$AP Rocky is found guilty of assault in Sweden but gets to stay out of jail

Donald Trump had personally intervened in the case, generating controversy and a diplomatic spat with Sweden.

Performer A$AP Rocky onstage, holding a microphone and walking away from the crowd.
A$AP Rocky performs at Le Zenith on June 27, 2019, in Paris, France.
David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

A Swedish court has convicted rapper A$AP Rocky of assault but sentenced him to serve no additional jail time, bringing an end to a case that drew international attention, mostly because the United States president wrote a lot of tweets about it.

A$AP Rocky — who real name is Rakim Mayers — and two of his associates faced charges in Sweden for assaulting a 19-year-old man, Mustafa Jafari, on the streets of Stockholm on June 30 while in the country for a music tour.

The rapper was detained for the incident starting July 5 and was held until his trial on July 30 because authorities thought his resources made him a flight risk.

He was released on August 2, at the conclusion of his trial, after spending about a month in jail. The judges issued their verdict Wednesday: guilty of assault, but no additional prison sentence.

A$AP Rocky and the two others charged in this case faced up to two years in prison, through prosecutors had requested six months. The judges wrote in their ruling that, “the assault has not been of such a serious nature that a prison sentence must be chosen.”

Rocky had said he acted in self-defense, and that the man he was accused of beating up had been harassing and following him and his entourage.

Though the judges rejected his defense, they also said prosecutors weren’t able to prove some of their claims, including that Rocky and his associates had beaten Jafari with a bottle, which “affected the assessment of the seriousness of the crime.”

The case was already serious from the point of view of the Trump administration. President Donald Trump had personally taken up Rocky’s cause with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, largely at the urging of Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West.

Trump’s intervention caused a brief rift in relations between the two countries, as Trump kept pressuring the Swedish government to release the rapper, forcing the prime minister to explain to the US president that the Swedish government couldn’t intervene in the legal system because of a little thing called “the rule of law.”

“Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States,” Trump tweeted on July 25, in a sampling of his social media diplomacy.

During the trial, the president sent his top hostage negotiator to Sweden to oversee the proceedings. CNN released a leaked letter, dated July 31, from O’Brien warning Swedish prosecutors to resolve the case as soon as possible to avoid “negative consequences to the US-Swedish bilateral relationship.”

The hostage negotiator’s intervention was extremely bizarre, as there are US citizens currently being held hostage in places where they are denied legal rights and access to a speedy trial and a legitimate justice system. Sweden, a democratic country and a close US ally, most definitely isn’t that — and there are Americans held in places like Iran that do fit that description. It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by family and friends of real US hostages.

Rocky returned to the United States on August 2, before the official verdict this week. Rocky — or the president — haven’t yet commented on the trial’s conclusion. Trump did celebrate Rocky’s release on August 2, injecting still more controversy into the saga, mostly because of this truly horrible pun.