A blogger from Singapore who had been jailed for criticizing the government in his online posts has been granted asylum in United States.
The 18-year-old blogger Amos Yee was taken into custody at the O’Hare International airport in Chicago, he has been under detention since December by the Federal Immigration authorities.
Samuel Cole, the immigration judge said: “Yee has met his burden of showing that he suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion and has a well-founded fear of future persecution in Singapore.”
The Judge also said that although the government of Singapore has provided reasons for his arrest but “its real purpose was to stifle Yee’s political speech”.
Amos Yee had been jailed in Singapore for several weeks in 2015 and 2016, he was charged with hurting the feelings of Christians and Muslims. He is an atheist but he got into problems due to his constant criticism of political leaders of Singapore.
He became the center of controversy in 2015 when he made a video strongly criticising the first prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew only a few days after his death.
Singapore discourages its people to openly criticise its political leaders to such an extent, however, the case received international attention as it raised questions about censorship and freedom of speech.
Yee has said in an interview from jail that he is afraid of returning back to Singapore, however, he is determined to speak out and he is also writing a book based on his experiences. He said: “I have an infinite amount of ideas of what to do.”
Attorneys from the Department of Homeland Security have opposed the asylum stating that Yee did not qualify as being persecuted on the basis of his political beliefs.
The deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson said: “Singapore excels at creating a pressure cooker environment for dissidents and free thinkers who dare challenge the political, economic and social diktats from the ruling People’s Action Party. It’s clear the Singapore government saw Amos Yee as the proverbial nail sticking up that had to be hammered down.”