SINGAPORE - Amos Yee, the 16-year-old whose online rants against Christianity have landed him in trouble with the law, is out on bail after spending four nights in remand.
Yee was brought from the court lockup to the bail centre at 6pm in handcuffs and leg shackles, escorted by five auxiliary police officers and three police officers.
His bailor is Mr Vincent Law, 51, a family and youth counsellor.
Said Mr Law: "I'm a Christian and it seems that the charge said that he made disparaging remarks against Christianity. I'm a Christian and I'm stepping up to say that I'm not offended."
"I'm also a parent and I feel for his parents."
He added that he hopes Yee is willing to be counselled by him, and reckons the youth may "respond better to a third party", especially since he is a counsellor.
Yee also has three lawyers representing him pro bono now.
Lawyer Alfred Dodwell told District Judge Ronald Gwee that he would be representing Yee along with lawyers Chong Jia Hao and Ervin Tan.
Mr Dodwell also told the court that someone was on the way to post bail for the teenager, who had been in remand since last Friday after his parents did not post bail.
The lawyer got in touch with Yee's parents two days ago.
Speaking to reporters later, Mr Dodwell said the lawyers are representing Yee because of his age and because "we believe everybody needs legal representation".
He said they did not condone or approve of what Yee did, but wanted to provide him with "proper legal representation so that he can be advised of the three charges" that he is facing.
The lawyers also handed out a statement to reporters, explaining why they were acting for him. It said that "the fundamental tenets of access to justice is enhanced if any person - including a 16 year-old accused of criminal offences - is represented by lawyers, instead of being left to navigate the criminal justice system without legal representation".
The statement also said the lawyers would advise Yee on his bail conditions; on whether pleading guilty or innocent would be the most appropriate course of action; and on sentencing options available to the court including those that deal with young offenders.
District Judge Ronald Gwee set the teen's next pre-trial conference for April 30.
Yee was charged on March 31 with attacking Christianity, transmitting an obscene image and making an online video containing remarks about founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew that offended viewers. He agreed as a condition of his bail not to post anything online until his case is decided.
But last Tuesday, he asked for donations to fund legal fees, on his blog and Facebook page. The blog post included links to the offensive videos and posts that led to him being charged in the first place. Yee was remanded last Friday after the judge at a pre-trial conference converted the $20,000 police bail that he had been on to court bail, requiring bail to be reposted. But his parents decided against posting bail.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers made it clear after queries from The Straits Times that the only reason the teenager remained in remand was that no one had come forward to provide the bail. The spokesman added that potential bailors did not have to deposit the $20,000 with the court, but simply pledge that they are good for the money. They also need to show they can ensure that Amos sticks to the bail conditions and shows up in court when required.