Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee in US detention after seeking political asylum

Amos Yee's asylum effort assumes significance as he is due for military enlistment in Singapore,.

Amos Yee faces eight new charges
Amos Yee leaves the State Court after his trial in Singapore Reuters

Teenage Singapore blogger Amos Yee, who served jail terms for insulting national icon and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, is in detention in the United states, where he apparently sought political asylum.

Yee was detained after landing at Chicago's O'Hare Airport on December 16, his civil activist colleagues in the US told media. Yee had kicked up controversy by circulating an indecent cartoon on the first prime minister and posting messages that hurt religious sentiments. He entered the US on a tourist visa but was detained after he said he was seeking political asylum in the US, a close ally of Singapore. The 18-year-old's mother confirmed the detention in a Facebook post.

Yee was held at McHenry County Jail near Chicago, Melissa Chen, a US-based Singaporean civil activist said, the South China Morning Post reported. She said she spoke with him by video link.

Yee was sentenced to a six-week jail term in September after pleading guilty to charges of making social media posts that defamed Christianity and Islam. The court said his contemptuous and irreverent remarks generated social unrest and undermined the religious harmony.

Yee had expressed remorse at the court but reacted with a tinge of sarcasm outside it, after the verdict. "Know what, I am getting sick of my long hair after 2 years, I think I'll cut it short.

"Fortunately for me they offer free haircuts in prison," he wrote on Twitter. "Got my sentence for 'intending to wound religious feelings': 38 days of prison. Going in on the 13th of October," he added.

Yee was arrested in March 2015 after he published a YouTube video criticizing Christianity and the country's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. He again uploaded incriminating photo and two videos online between April 17 and May 19. Subsequently Yee spent about 50 days in prison.

Yee, who has strong following on social media, made his last Facebook post on December 15. Yee's asylum effort assumes significance as he is due to be enlisted for compulsory military duty in Singapore.

Even as rights groups decried the treatment of the teen blogger, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong justified the proceedings against Yee saying offending religious sentiments in a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi religious country like Singapore is a serious matter. "In our society, which is multiracial and multi-religious, giving offence to another religious or ethnic group, race, language or religion, is always a very serious matter. In this case, he's a [teenager], so you have to deal with it appropriately because he's [young]," the prime minister told the Time magazine last year.