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Yoko Ono Calls for 'Immediate Release' of Pussy Riot

Offers 'my love and respect' at Grant for Peace presentation

Yoko Ono presents the "LennonOno Grant for Peace" to Pyotr Verzilov in New York.
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/GettyImages
September 21, 2012 4:39 PM ET

Yoko Ono joined supporters calling for the release of three imprisoned members of Pussy Riot today in New York when she presented the LennonOno Grant For Peace to the husband of one of them, Reuters reports.

"I thank Pussy Riot in standing firmly in their belief for freedom of expression and making all women of the world proud to be women," Ono said as she presented the grant to Pyotr Verzilov, spokesman and husband of the jailed Nadezhda Tolokonnikova; their four-year old daughter Gera; and the group's Russian legal defense team.

Ono added that she "wanted to express my love and respect for them, I want to work for the immediate release from the prison they are in."

On October 1st, the band is set to appeal their two year prison sentence after they were convicted of hooliganism when performing a "punk prayer" protest against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral. Tolokonnikova and the two other jailed members, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, are currently listed on Amnesty International's Prisoners of Conscience list, which seeks to free those wrongfully imprisoned for political, religious and other beliefs.

"At it's core this case is about three young women who are in jail for the crime of singing a song," said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International's USA Executive Director. "Anybody can relate to this case and to these women and you cant help but feel your heart tugged."

Madonna, Paul McCartney, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and more have offered messages of support to Pussy Riot, and Sinead O'Connor Wednesday issued an open letter to Putin through Rolling Stone

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