Singaporean blogger activist Amos Yee has confirmed that he is currently still in an American prison, two weeks after news of his US political asylum bid first broke.
The 18-year-old frequently posts videos critical of the Singapore government and the ruling People’s Action Party. He spent six weeks behind bars in Singapore last year after being found guilty of ‘intending to wound religious feelings’ and failing to report for police investigation – charges which he pleaded guilty to.
Yee has been detained in the US since December 16, after Customs and Border Protection at Chicago O’Hare International Airport found out that he was planning to apply for political asylum, according to Singaporean journalist Kirsten Han.
In a Facebook post on Friday written by Yee and posted with the help of US-based activist Melissa Chen, Yee addressed his friends and confirmed that he is indeed still in jail in the US. However, he said that the circumstances in an American prison were much better than that in Singapore.
“Instead of one empty cell with two cell mates that you are trapped in for 90% of the time, in American jail there is a common area with books, board games and a TV. There are up to 10 people to talk to and the food is sumptuous; there has been cake almost every day,” Yee said, adding that he did not have a single boring moment in this jail, which surprised him.
“Of course the Singapore government-run mass media is going to portray like I am being tortured inside to create fear amongst Singaporeans, scaring them into not criticizing the government, engaging in human rights activism that can benefit society, and instead, continue leading their selfish, mundane lives.”
Yee then went on to criticise the situation in Singapore, pointing to its poverty rate and highlighting the imprisonment of Chia Thye Poh by founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s government. He also said that international media coverage of him misrepresented his views and that he will be turning down all exclusive interviews for now.
Yee then appealed to his followers asking for donations, saying that he only had around $1,000 in his bank account after going to the US. A US$10,000 relocation fund has been set up by Yee’s friend, American cartoonist Nina Paley, and the money raised will go towards travel expenses for his legal team and to aid his transition to a life in the US.
“I look forward to coming out soon to see all your lovely comments and meeting my dear American friends. I’m now able to criticize ideas freely and it will be wonderful, wonderful! Thank you all so much for your support,” he said.
Yee was first convicted in May 2015 of offending the sentiments of Christians in a video comparing Lee Kuan Yew with Jesus Christ, as well as for posting an obscene doctored image of Lee and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in a sexual position. He was given a four week jail sentence.