Amos Yee may have to wait years in US asylum bid

HONG KONG • Controversial Singaporean blogger Amos Yee, who is currently seeking asylum in the United States, may face years of waiting before knowing if he will be granted citizenship, according to his lawyer.

The 18-year-old was taken into custody after he landed at Chicago O'Hare Airport on Dec 16. He is currently detained at the McHenry County jail.

His lawyer, Ms Sandra Grossman, said Amos was likely to have been detained because he entered the US on a tourist visa, despite "an intention to apply for asylum or remain" in the country, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

To obtain political asylum, the teenage blogger would have to be assessed by an asylum official to determine if he faces a "credible fear of persecution or torture", a process that usually takes days to complete.

If he passes the assessment, he would likely be released from detention and allowed to remain in the US while awaiting a court hearing on his asylum bid.

But the holiday season could delay his assessment, and it would take years before Amos gets the chance to appear before a judge, due to backlogs in the immigration system, Ms Grossman added.

"Once his case goes before an immigration judge, I think his chances are extremely high," she was quoted by SCMP as saying.

Amos first came to the attention of the authorities back home last year when he posted a video online making offensive remarks about former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and insulting Christianity. He later served two prison terms for wounding religious feelings. He was jailed for four weeks in July last year and sentenced to six weeks' jail in September this year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 25, 2016, with the headline Amos Yee may have to wait years in US asylum bid. Subscribe