On March 24, the United States of America’s (U.S.) Immigration Judge, Samuel B. Cole, granted Amos Yee’s asylum application. Judge Cole concluded that the Singapore government persecuted Yee on account of his political opinion, and that Yee is deserving of asylum as a matter of discretion. The U.S. government is appealing this decision.
The American government’s decision to appeal the teen blogger’s asylum means the 18-year-old must remain in U.S. custody until the Board of Immigration Appeals decides on the case.
Yee has been in detention since he landed at the O’Hare International Airport in December last year. Yee’s attorney Chris Keeler said that the final decision could take months. An ICE online database shows Yee is detained at a Wisconsin jail.
Judge Cole considered the Freedom House and the World Press Freedom Index rankings of Singapore for his judgment on Yee. He noted that Singapore is indicated as “partly free” in the Freedom House listing, and that World Press Freedom Index listed Singapore at 153 – near bottom of its ranking.
The government of Singapore has always poo-pooed such international rankings and said that Singapore had to balance freedoms with rule of law. Speaking to regional newspaper editors in 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he does not take such rankings seriously.