In this May, 12, 2015, file photo, Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee speaks to reporters while leaving the Subordinate Courts after being released on bail in Singapore. Yee, who is seeking seeking asylum after online posts mocking his government landed him jail, appeared in a Chicago immigration court Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, via video from an Illinois jail where he's been held since immigration authorities took him into custody at O'Hare International Airport in December 2016. Yee's attorneys submitted his asylum application Monday.
(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
Singapore teen submits US asylum claim in immigration court
(Associated Press) - February 1, 2017 - 7:20am

CHICAGO — A Singapore teenager seeking to stay in the US after his blog posts mocking his government twice landed him in jail made his first appearance Monday in a Chicago immigration court, where an attorney officially submitted his application for asylum.

Amos Yee appeared via video and spoke little during the hearing. He's been detained at a northern Illinois jail since December, when immigration authorities took him into custody at O'Hare International Airport.

His 246-page application includes statements of support from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who urged US officials to let him stay.

They allege Yee has been harassed by the Singapore government for publicly expressing his views on religion and politics, and for criticizing the city-state's leaders, including late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Yee, 18, was imprisoned in Singapore for six weeks in September on charges of hurting the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims, after breaching bail conditions following a monthlong sentence he served on the same charges.

"Our theory is that he was persecuted in Singapore and that the prosecution against him was illegitimate because it was based on laws that were meant to restrict his freedom of expression," Yee's attorney Sandra Grossman said outside court. "If he returns to Singapore, he's likely to be convicted again for similar acts."

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Yee sat with hands folded in his lap, his once shoulder-length hair closely cropped. He briefly greeted and thanked the judge and said he didn't have anything to add to his attorney's comments.

A federal government attorney said in court that Yee's criminal record in Singapore would be reviewed. Grossman said she intended to call witnesses at the next hearing. Judge Samuel Cole set a March 7 hearing, though he indicated he'd seek an earlier date.

It was unclear if Yee will remain in custody as his case proceeds.

Grossman said his release was at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security, but President Donald Trump's recent immigration orders had fueled an air of uncertainty.

Trump's executive order stopping immigration for citizens of seven predominantly-Muslim countries for 90 days created chaos over the weekend.

Those with legal permission to live in the US, including refugees and green-card holders, were detained at airports. Some were sent back before a federal judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring deportations. Thousands protested from Seattle to New York.

Grossman said those in the US have legal protections.

"He's lucky that he's already here," she said of Yee. "But he is affected by the general atmosphere that the administration is creating."

Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees US immigration courts, declined to comment.

ASYLUM BLOGGERS FREEDOM OF SPEECH SINGAPORE US IMMIGRATION ISSUES
Philstar
Facebook
  • Latest
  • Trending
Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with
Read and share the latest news
whenever and wherever you are.
Top Stories
Features the most relevant stories,
exclusive content, analyses and special reports.
As It Happens
Get bite-sized highlights and up-to-date
information as the news breaks.
Latest
View the most recent
stories of the day.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 1
Click the story in the As it Happens section.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 2
Click "Follow Story" for updates on the news.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Author
STEP 1
Click on the author's name in the article.
How to follow Author
STEP 2
Once you click on the author's name, you will be
brought to the Authors page. Click "Follow Author"
to stay updated on the author's works
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Tags
STEP 1
Click on a tag in the article.
How to follow Tags
STEP 2
When you click on a tag, it will take you to the
dedicated tag page where you'll see the article
viewed, along with other stories with that tag.

Click the "follow tag" button to stay updated on
the topic.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.