SINGAPOREAN teen blogger Amos Yee was released from United States custody on Tuesday following an immigration appeals court’s decision to uphold his bid for asylum.
According to Channel News Asia, Sandra Grossman, a pro bono counsel to Yee, said in a statement that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had dismissed the Department of Homeland Security’s appeal opposing a decision by a lower court to grant Yee asylum.
The court previously ruled in March that Yee, 18, has a “well-founded fear of future persecution” if returned to Singapore. Judge Samuel Cole in Chicago concluded that Yee had met the burden of showing “he suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion” and said the aim of jailing Yee in Singapore at such a young age was to stifle his political speech.
While living in Singapore, Yee was sentenced to four weeks in jail in July 2015 for posts on social media that the court deemed offensive to the feelings of Christians and Muslims. He was sentenced to another six weeks jail for the same offence in September last year. The prolific blogger also posted a number of posts explicitly criticising Singapore’s leaders and political system, something that is strongly discouraged in the strict city-state.
Yee fled his homeland in December to seek asylum in the US. He was detained at the airport on his arrival and has remained in custody since then despite the lower court’s decision to grant him asylum in March.
Emerging on Tuesday from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in downtown Chicago, Yee said he was “kind of stunned” and that, “It’s very surreal,” according to Associated Press (via abc news).
“I’ll continue leading life as usual,” Yee said upon his release. “I have plans for more videos, much of it criticising the Singapore government, but I think maybe I broaden my work to US politics too, since I’m here.”