Text messages with activist led to Amos Yee's detention in Chicago

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Singaporean activist Melissa Chen who first spoke about the detention of teen blogger Amos Yee in Chicago, USA, has shared more information about his situation there. In a note released by Community Action Network, Ms Chen said that Amos was flagged for secondary screening at the airport where they found text messages between Amos and Ms Chen. In the text messages they discussed making arrangements for Amos’ bid for political asylum in the United States of America. Amos was therefore compelled to tell the truth. Amos is unlikely to be released from detention until a hearing is convened.

Just in case you are not able to read the post, this is what it said.


#amosyee – Melissa Chen: The cat’s out of the bag now. Amos Yee is in the USA, currently being detained by ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement).

The first rule of political asylum is that there is no such thing as… just kidding. The first rule is that you have to be physically present on US soil, so Amos was instructed to enter the US on a tourist visa (ESTA) with a round-trip ticket from Singapore. After landing at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officer flagged him for secondary inspection where they seized his electronic devices and found text messages between Amos and me, where we had been making arrangements for his bid for political asylum in the US.

Apparently this is totally not unconstitutional, and even if it was, he’s not a US citizen yet so he probably doesn’t deserve constitutional protections anyway.

The officers asked Amos if he was here to seek political asylum and with the proof in their hands, Amos was compelled to tell the truth. The US has acted totally according to procedure here.

He won’t be released until a hearing/interview, so at the moment, it feels a bit like indefinite detention. Amos has spent a total of 5 weeks in jail in Singapore and it might very well be that to live freely in a country that enshrines the freedom of speech and expression in its Constitution, he might end up serving way more time than that, in a US jail which, he informed me was “heaven compared to Singapore jail.”

The one thing Amos requested for during this time is BOOKS to tie him over immense boredom while waiting in jail. The policy is that the shipment has to be direct from a bookseller (Amazon or Barnes & Nobles), and it has to be brand new (not used).

Whatever it is you want to send him, whether it’s Lee Kuan Yew’s autobiography or How To be More Politically Correct And Curse Less, please mail it to:

Amos Yee
Jail ID #132139
McHenry County Jail
2200 N. Seminary Avenue
Woodstock, IL 60098

Adam Lowisz mailed his book of choice to Amos which will be reaching him today: Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger

Nina Paley (the film maker) has sent him Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States which will probably arrive on Christmas Eve

If you’re sending him something, please write it in the comments section below so we don’t end up sending him two (or more) copies of the same book. If you’re not and would like to suggest, please suggest a title anyway.”


Read also: Amos Yee detained in US while seeking political asylum