Amos Yee

Singaporean YouTuber and blogger Amos Yee pleaded not guilty on Tuesday (Nov 24) in Chicago to all charges related to his arrest for child pornography and grooming.

He was arrested on Oct 14 and indicted formally by a grand jury on Nov 4.

The accused, who turned 22 last month, was alleged to have exchanged nude photos and “thousands” of messages in 2019 with a Texas girl who was then 14 years old while he was living in Chicago, according to a report by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Yee, who remained on Tuesday in Chicago’s Cook County jail on a US$1 million bond, entered his plea by video link before Judge Carol Howard.

According to court officials, he will next appear in court on Dec 18.

Prosecutors said there was no way of knowing how long it would take to reach a trial by jury, according to a Channel NewsAsia report.

Yee has been unable to post the required US$100,000 (S$134,000) of his US$1 million bond in order to be freed pending trial. If he is able to do so, he will be placed on electronic monitoring, a court spokeswoman said.

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Prosecutors say they obtained messages Yee exchanged between April and July 2019, that included nude photos he requested and received from the girl and nude photos of himself that he sent to the minor.

Prosecutors said the girl repeatedly brought up her age in the messages but Yee instructed her to remove her age from her profile on WhatsApp.

When their relationship eventually soured, she reached out to a group interested in exposing paedophiles.

Yee’s alleged behaviour turned one of his supporters — the activist who campaigned for him to secure asylum in the United States in 2017 — against him.

Ms Melissa Chen, a human rights activist originally from Singapore, shared in an earlier Facebook post that, when she found out about his behaviour, she had assisted the authorities in getting him arrested. /TISG