CHICAGO (REUTERS) – Blogger Amos Yee, who is seeking political asylum in the United States, said on Friday (Dec 30) that he regretted the inflammatory posts that landed him in jail twice in Singapore.
The 18-year-old, who is currently detained in Illinois, told Reuters that the videos he filmed insulting Singapore’s late prime minister and various religions were in bad taste.
"I told you, it is hate speech, it is overly rude, it isn’t good activism," Amos said by telephone from the McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility in Illinois. “I completely regret making those videos.”
Amos’ posts, and subsequent trials and convictions in Singapore, have stirred debate in the conservative city-state over censorship and free speech. His trials were watched closely by rights groups as well as the United Nations.
Last year, he was convicted on charges of harassment and insulting a religious group over comments he made about Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and Christians soon after Mr Lee’s death. His sentence amounted to four weeks in jail.
In September, Amos was sentenced to six weeks in jail after pleading guilty to posting comments on the internet critical of Christianity and Islam.
Amos arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Dec 16 and told US Customs officials he was seeking political asylum.
The blogger said that he wanted to live in Illinois and has no plans to return to Singapore, a South-east Asian city-state that has compulsory military service for males, which Amos said he would not take part in.
Amos should have his first hearing in front of a judge within two weeks, according to his attorney, Sandra Grossman. Amos has had no contact with the Singaporean government since arriving, he said.
While highly critical of actions of the US government abroad, particularly drone strikes in the Middle East, the teen said the country provided the best platform for spreading his political message of anarchist communism and ending private property and wage labor.
“It is not going to the best country. This is about going to the country that most effectively promotes my political philosophy of anarchical communism,” he said.