Mos Def To Stand Trial Over 'World Passport'

Mos Def To Stand Trial Over 'World Passport'

Rapper Mos Def is to stand trial in South Africa after attempting to leave the country using a "world passport".

The American was trying to fly out of Cape Town last week when he handed immigration officials a document they said was invalid.

World passports are the creation of a pressure group and used by some activists who believe in a world without borders.

The 42-year-old hip hop artist and actor, whose real name is Dante Terrel Smith and also goes under the name of Yasiin Bey, was arrested and later released on bail of 5,000 rand (£210).

South Africa's Department of Home Affairs said he had entered with a legitimate US passport in November and had a visitor's visa valid until February.

Home affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni told reporters: "The document he produced at the immigration counter, the World Passport ... South Africa does not recognise." 

"Immigration officers had also detected that his spouse and minor child had overstayed their visit to the Republic.

"Mr Smith will appear for trial on 8 March to answer the immigration charges," he added.

The world passport is the official travel document of the World Service Authority - a non-governmental group set up by peace activist Garry Davis in 1953 with the aim of unifying laws and countries.

The document was created by Mr Davis in response to Article 13 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that everyone should have an inalienable right to travel.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and intelligence leaker Edward Snowden are reported to be holders of the passports, but they are not officially recognised.

Immigration officials say Smith, who is thought to live in Cape Town, entered the country 10 times between 2013 and when he tried to leave for Ethiopia on Wednesday.

On every occasion he used a US passport and was granted a 90-day tourist visa.

On a rapped message posted on Kanye West's website, the artist called for people to boycott South Africa.

He said: "I've committed no crime. Why's the state wasting my time ... Where I live is my choice ... I just wanna go where I'm wanted ... A country called Earth, everywhere ... No more parties in SA."

He added: "They are ... saying that the document I was travelling on was fictitious.

"Anyone can do the research about the world passport. It is not a fictitious document. It has been accepted here on many occasions."