Paul McCartney supports Pussy Riot in letter to Russian judge

Paul McCartney arrives on stage for "12-12-12 The Concert For Sandy Relief" on Dec. 12, 2012, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Getty

Paul McCartney has asked a Russian judge to release members of the Pussy Riot punk group from prison.

In letters dated Monday and posted online, McCartney asks for parole to be granted to Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, currently serving two-year sentences for an impromptu protest in Moscow's main cathedral.

McCartney wrote that he was making the request "in a spirit of friendship for my many Russian acquaintances who, like me, believe in treating people - all people, with compassion and kindness." He wrote, "My personal belief is that further incarceration for Maria will be harmful for her and the situation as a whole, which, of course, is being watched by people all over the world."

Alekhina went on hunger strike Wednesday in protest at not being allowed to attend her own parole hearing in Perm province. The judge in Mordovia province to whom McCartney addressed both letters denied Tolokonnikova parole last month.

This isn't the first time McCartney has thrown his support behind Pussy Riot. Last August, the former Beatle urged three members of Pussy Riot to "stay strong" and called on authorities to allow them freedom of speech, saying, "I and many others like me who believe in free speech will do everything in our power to support you and the idea of artistic freedom."

McCartney is currently on his "Out There" tour in North America.

  • CBS News Staff

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