March 25 (UPI) — The United States granted asylum to a blogger who was twice jailed in Singapore for expressing critical views of religion and the country’s leaders.
A U.S. immigration judge described Amos Yee, 18, as a “young political dissident” and granted his asylum application. Yee had been held at a Chicago detention center since December after he was stopped from entering the country when officials learned about his plans to seek asylum.
“His prosecution, detention and general maltreatment at the hands of Singapore authorities constitute persecution on account of Yee’s political opinions,” Judge Samuel Cole said.
The Department of Homeland Security, which opposed his asylum application, has until April 17 to appeal the ruling.
In 2015, Yee was held for 53 days after he posted a YouTube video railing against Singapore’s leaders, including the country’s first prime minister. In 2016, he was found guilty of eight charges, including charges related to “wounding religious feelings.” He was sentenced to six weeks in prison.
“He has, on several occasions, deliberately elected to do harm by using offensive and insulting words and profane gestures to hurt the feelings of Christians and Muslims,” officials said.