LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Attorneys for rapper 21 Savage, who was taken into custody in Atlanta on immigration charges over the weekend, said on Monday that he had been arrested based on incorrect information about his criminal record and should be released while awaiting court proceedings.
The entertainer, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested on Sunday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents over accusations that he had overstayed his visa by more than a decade. He came to the United States from Britain in 2005, officials said.
An ICE spokesman has said that Abraham-Joseph, 26, was being held at a detention facility in Georgia, and faces deportation proceedings in federal immigration court. He was convicted on felony drug charges in 2014, according to the agency.
“ICE has not charged Mr. Abraham-Joseph with any crime. As a minor, his family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status through no fault of his own,” the rapper’s attorney, Charles Kuck, said in a written statement released to Reuters.
“This is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States,” Kuck said.
Kuck also said that ICE was refusing to release his client on bond based on “incorrect information about prior criminal charges.” The attorney did not elaborate on the information he believed was wrong.
Media representatives for ICE could not be reached for comment in response to Kuck’s statement on Monday evening.
Britain’s Foreign Office has said that it was in contact with Abraham-Joseph’s attorneys and that it only got involved in such cases if the person involved was a British passport holder.
An ICE official told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that when Abraham-Joseph was arrested in 2014, ICE was not aware of his immigration status. It only learned later that he was allegedly from the UK, the official said.
21 Savage was nominated for two Grammy Awards for the hit “Rockstar,” with Post Malone, including the coveted record of the year category, ahead of the televised ceremony on Sunday. His Facebook page shows that he also has several concerts scheduled in the coming weeks.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien