Amos Yee Pang Sang, a 20-year-old former Singaporean blogger, has been officially charged in a court in Illinois, in Washington state on Friday, Oct 16th 2020. Yee’s charges are for soliciting and possessing child pornography. Local newspapers are following the unfolding events of his case.
Jailed twice in Singapore before fleeing to the U.S.
In Singapore, Amos Yee has been jailed twice in the years 2015 and 2016, because he continuously put up posts of offensive videos on social media. His videos caused a total of 32 police reports lodged against him by concerned Singaporeans and various groups. The Singapore courts charged Yee with “intention of wounding the religious feelings of Christians”, obscenity, and “threatening, abusive or insulting communication”.
Yee fled to the U.S. in December 2016, just one day before he was supposed to undergo a medical examination before beginning his national service. He immediately sought political asylum upon arrival in the U.S. In March 2017, the Chicago Immigration Department approved and granted his application, despite the U.S. government opposing it.
In spite of the appeal by the U.S. government, the Chicago Immigration Department maintained its decision of granting Yee political asylum. Immigration officials mentioned his fear of facing more legal action, if he is forced to return to Singapore. Yee has been living in Chicago ever since his asylum application was granted in Sep 2017.
Online relationship with under aged Texan girl
The Chicago Sun-Times daily newspaper reported the events leading to Yee’s charges. In Chicago, Yee was allegedly exchanging nude photos and “thousands” of messages with a 14-year-old Texas girl.
Yee could be seen appearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Friday for his bond hearing. The newspaper reported that bail was set at US$1 million. While awaiting his trial to begin, Yee has also been denied internet access.
If the court finds Yee guilty, his asylum status is at stake, because of its revocation, and then leading to his deportation.
Yee had been exchanging messages with the girl from April till July 2019. Their relationship includes the exchange of nude photos by both parties. All the messages and photos are in the hands of the prosecutors. Findings by the prosecutors from the messages indicate the girl repeatedly mentioning her age. Yee always responded telling her to delete this information from her WhatsApp profile.
The prosecutors say when the relationship reached breaking point, the girl reached out to a support group, “Interested In Exposing Pedophiles”. This led to the passing of her case to Homeland Security officials, leading to Yee’s arrest.
Yee’s lawyer cum assistant public defender portrays Yee as an “internet troll”, and claims he tends to say “fantastic things” online. His lawyer also argues to take all Yee’s comments in a light way.
Former Yee advocate speaks out
A former Yee supporter is Melissa Chen, a Singaporean working in New York. Chen confirms the recent newspaper reports on Yee. Making a Facebook post on Friday, Chen says an anonymous individual from the communal group “M.A.P. hunters” alerted her on Yee’s activities. M.A.P. is the acronym for “Minor Attracted People”.
In her posting, Chen said, “I took the allegations seriously, responded and verified the accusations. After speaking with the young victim, I was broken. I vowed to do all I could to get her justice and remove him from society”.
Chen was initially helping Amos Yee out on his application for political asylum. However, later on, Chen made calls for his deportation, because of social media posts revealing that he was promoting pedophilia on the internet instead.
Former attorney declining to comment
Attempts by news reporters to get comments from Sandra Grossman did not materialize. Grossman was Yee’s pro bono attorney for his application for asylum application back in 2016. She did not comment, so as to avoid facing charges for breaching the attorney-client privilege. This legal privilege disallows the making of such information public.
March 2017 saw the Chicago Immigration Department granting Yee political asylum. He let local media house, The Chicago Straits Times, know of his future plans. These plans covered his intentions of making more videos and expanding his knowledge of America. His apparent ultimate goal is moving on to bigger projects.
Online readers found many pro-pedophilia postings by Yee in 2018. Quick reaction by social media giants YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and WordPress led to the shutting down of all his active accounts. Yee now cannot put up posts on any of their sites.
Next court appearance
Amos Yee is currently in remand on US$1 million bail. If raising the bail money is unlikely for him, Yee will spend his remaining time in jail. Yee will have a very challenging time in jail with no internet access. His next court appearance will be on Nov 5th 2020.
17th October 2020 22:30