Amos Yee at the State Court on 17 August 2016 (Photo - Terry Xu)

Amos Yee’s lawyer: Asylum appeal likely to be expedited

Singaporean Blogger Amos Yee’s appeal to the US’ Board of Immigration Appeals will likely be expedited, a lawyer representing him said on Friday (28 Apr).

Channel NewsAsia (CNA) wrote, Mr Christopher Keeler, a co-counsel for Yee from legal firm Grossman Law, told in an email to CNA that the US government appeal to the immigration judge Samuel Cole’s ruling which grants the teen asylum in the US was filed on 4 Apr, within the 30-day window after the initial ruling on 24 March was made.

However, because the appeal is in writing, there will be no oral hearings in front of the Board, and since briefs are due by 11 May, the law firm is currently drafting the brief to support of Yee’s case.

“We expect that the Board should rule on the matter in about six to eight weeks, but that time frame could easily be shorter or longer depending on the Board’s schedule,” Mr Keeler said, “Both sides will have a chance to appeal the decision to federal court after.”

However, Mr Keeler said that Yee could be detained for much longer should there be an appeal on the decision. He will also remain detained until his case is final.

He also said that all of the several requests submitted by the law firm to release Yee from detention, reasoning that he is not a flight risk and poses no threat to the community, have been denied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Amos Yee was granted asylum by the United States on 24 March by immigration judge Samuel Cole, garnering an immediate response from the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore (ACLS) as well as The Law Society of Singapore (the Society) expressing their disagreement with the comments about Singapore’s criminal justice system made by the US judge.

In March, Community Action Network and Think Centre in Singapore had urged the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a joint statement to respect the legal judgement granting asylum to Amos Yee and others.

An update on 27 April on the Facebook page of Amos Yee mentioned that he was on suicide watch in jail for the past 2 weeks, although it is unclear who updated the status.

The detainees on suicide watch are usually kept in a bare cell alone, and given paper gowns or tear-proof clothing to prevent them from creating a noose.

Yee has been detained for about 5 months now, which means he has been locked up longer in the U.S. than in Singapore.