US grants asylum to teenage Singaporean blogger

Indo Asian News Service

Singapore, March 25 (IANS) A US immigration judge granted asylum to a Singaporean teenage blogger, according to a statement by his lawyer on Saturday.

The judge on Friday ruled in favour of the 18-year-old Amos Yee who has been detained in Chicago by immigration authorities since his arrival last December after considering that he had been unfairly persecuted for his political opinions, Efe news reported.

The judge also deemed Yee's fear of future persecution by authorities in Singapore as credible and real.

The granting of asylum to the teenager will only be approved if the Department of National Security does not oppose the measure.

Yee left the city-state after serving a six-week jail sentence he received in September 2016 for inciting religious hatred on social networks by posting allegedly offensive videos against Christians and Muslims.

He had already been convicted in 2015 on similar charges, as well as for ridiculing former prime minister and founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who died that same year.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), which criticised the teenager's convictions, welcomed the decision of the US judge and denounced the pressure that the Singapore government regularly exerts on dissidents who question the ruling party.

"It's clear the Singapore government saw Amos Yee as the proverbial nail sticking up that had to be hammered down", HRW's deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson, said.

He added that "ever since Amos posted his video attack on former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew just days after his passing, Amos has been a marked man in Singapore, subjected to surveillance, harassment, restrictive orders on his freedom of expression over the internet, and persecution."