A teenage blogger from Singapore whose online posts blasting his government landed him in jail was granted asylum to remain in the United States by an immigration judge in Chicago Friday. Amos Yee has been detained by federal immigration authorities since December, when he was taken into custody at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Attorneys say the 18-year-old could be released from a Wisconsin detention center as early as Monday, the AP reports. "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," Judge Samuel Cole wrote in his 13-page decision.
Yee left Singapore after being jailed for several weeks in 2015 and 2016. The atheist was accused of hurting the religious feelings of Muslims and Christians in the multiethnic city-state. However, many of his blog and social media posts contained criticism of Singapore's leaders. Cole said testimony during Yee's hearing showed that while the Singapore government's stated reason for punishing him involved religion, "its real purpose was to stifle Yee's political speech." He said Yee's prison sentence was "unusually long and harsh" especially for his age. Homeland Security attorneys opposed the asylum bid, saying Yee's case didn't qualify as persecution based on political beliefs (Read more Singapore stories.)