Singapore teen's US asylum request upheld after 10-month detention
Yee’s pro-bono lawyer Sandra Grossman said that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had agreed with a prior court decision to grant him asylum in the United States on the grounds of persecution by the Singapore government for his political beliefs.
Yee, 19, has served time in prison in Singapore for online videos and blog posts critical of Sinapore first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and of Chritianity and Islam.
He fled Singapore for the United States in December last year, where he was detained at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after the Department of Homeland Security discovered his intention to apply for asylum in the US.
His asylum request was granted by an immigration judge in March, which found that the Singapore government’s decision to prosecute Yee was “a pretext to silence his political opinions.”
However, immigration authorities appealed the ruling, citing “errors of fact and contradiction.”
The appeal was later unanimously dismissed by a three-member panel from the Board, ruling that immigration authorities did not successfully rebut the applicant’s well-founded fear of persecution, in a written judgment on September 21.
Yee first courted controversy in 2015 when he was sentenced to four weeks in prison for publishing an expletive-laden video criticising Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity, shortly after the elder statesman’s death.
Last year, he was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment and charged 2,000 Singapore dollars (1,477 US dollars) fine for wounding religious feelings after he published videos and blog posts that were deemed derogatory of Christianity and Islam.
Shortly after his release, Yee published a photo of himself on Facebook with the caption “Amos Yee is now a free man!”</span>