Trump Sends Veteran Hostage Expert to Sweden to Oversee ASAP Rocky Trial

Written by on August 1, 2019

The decision to send a special envoy for hostage affairs, who was previously active in Afghanistan, to overlook a celebrity trial is seen as largely symbolic, but has raised eyebrows.  As the trial of the US rap artist A$AP Rocky and his bodyguards began on Tuesday in Stockholm, top US diplomat and hostage expert Robert O’Brien was spotted in the court, intensely following the developments.  By his own admission, Robert O’Brien has been following the investigtion of the case of A$AP Rocky and the two other men suspected of assault, on behalf of US President Donald Trump.  According to Merrick Tabor, political scientist and adjunct professor at Stockholm University, it is highly unusual for an official of Robert O’Brien’s calibre to monitor this type of case.  According to Tabor, it is unlikely that O’Brien will act during the trial, his presence being rather symbolic.

O’Brien’s career

Robert O’Brien is a prominent US lawyer who has worked privately and with the US government. He is currently the US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.  He previously worked on reforming the justice system in Afghanistan under Republican and Democratic Foreign Ministers Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. During his tenure as UN Ambassador during George W. Bush’s presidency, he also worked with current US national security adviser John Bolton. He holds a a law degree from the University of California, and is a partner in the law firm Larson O’Brien LLP.

Rocky’s Trial

Rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested on 2 July after a street fight following his appearance at the Smash festival in Stockholm; he has been kept in custody for nearly a month. The prosecutors said the Grammy-nominated rapper and his bodyguards “deliberately, together and in agreement” attacked a local man, Mustafa Jafari, on 30 June. Rocky, by contrast, claimed to have acted in self-defence.  The rapper faces up to two years in prison and fines. If convicted, he is also most likely to serve his sentence in Sweden. The court’s evidence consists of 500 pages, including a description of the victim’s injuries, mostly cuts and bruises, as well as bloody clothing.

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