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Jay-Z hires lawyer for British rapper 21 Savage in visa case

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Jay-Z hires lawyer for British rapper 21 Savage in visa case
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Reuters
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US rapper Jay-Z has hired a lawyer to assist in the case of Atlanta-based British rapper 21 Savage, who remains in custody following his arrest by US immigration on Sunday.

US lawyer Alex Spiro confirmed to Variety that Jay-Z had hired him for the case.

In a statement to Facebook, Jay-Z said the arrest was "an absolute travesty," adding that the Grammy-nominated rapper "deserves to be reunited with his children immediately."

The musician, whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was arrested early Sunday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who say he is from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa.

"Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the US and also a convicted felon," ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in a statement.

Abraham-Joseph, 26, has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts, the statement added.

Abraham-Joseph is an "unlawfully present United Kingdom national" who came to the US in July 2005 on a visa that expired a year later, Cox said.

He was convicted of felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia.

Abraham-Joseph performed in Atlanta as recently as Thursday in the Super Bowl Music Fest at the State Farm Arena.

The rapper's initial lawyer, Dina LaPolt, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Euronews, but told the entertainment publication Variety that Abraham-Joseph was a "role model" who was sponsoring financial literacy programs aimed at helping underprivileged youth.

21 Savage is a major figure in Atlanta's vibrant rap scene. His tracks often refer to his upbringing in the southern US city.

The news of his arrest sparked sceptical reactions from fans on Twitter. Some expressed disbelief that the American rap icon was actually British. Other questioned the timing of his arrest, just a few days after a high-profile Super Bowl concert which garnered attention for his political lyrics.

A spokesperson from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said its staff were "in contact with the lawyer of a British man following his detention in the USA."