Singaporean Blogger Granted Asylum in U.S.

An immigration judge on Friday granted asylum to an 18-year-old blogger from Singapore being held in a U.S. detention center since mid-December. Amos Yee, who had been jailed twice in Singapore for posting critical comments online, was detained by authorities upon arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in December. He will now be eligible for immediate release. In a 13-page opinion by Judge Samuel Cole on Friday, Yee was described as a “young political dissident.” “The evidence presented at the hearing demonstrates Singapore's prosecution of Yee was a pretext to silence his political opinions critical of the Singapore government,” Cole wrote. Cole’s ruling went against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which had fought against Yee’s asylum request, arguing that the Singaporean government had legitimate reasons to arrest Yee. Yee has been jailed twice in Singapore for posting critical comments about Singapore’s former prime minister, and about Christianity and Islam online, and his situation has been a driving force in the debate over free speech and censorship in the Southeast Asian city-state.