Photo of Amos Yee from Chicago Police and screenshot of Amos Yee’s twitter account before it was removed.

20-year old Singaporean Amos Yee who was granted asylum in United States, has been brought to Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Friday (16 Oct) for solicitation and possession of child porn charges.

According to Chicago Suntimes (CST), Yee allegedly exchanged nude photos and “thousands” of messages with a 14-year-old Texas girl while he was living in Chicago.

According to Cook County prosecutors, the blogger and Youtuber has been living in Chicago for about three years.

Yee then generated controversy in the U.S. when he began posting to his now-removed YouTube channel and Twitter advocating for pedophiles, and was subsequently banned or blocked from using these two social media platforms. His Facebook account was also removed as a result of his activities.

Prosecutors said Yee also ran a pro-pedophile forum on a message board – which the service provider also took action by shutting down the server, as well as the accounts of everyone involved in it.

Yee addressed rumors of an inappropriate relationship with a young girl, in which Yee “argued that even if he did sexually abuse a 14-year-old, it does not change that there is nothing immoral about pedophilia,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Yee’s assistant public defender presented the defence as Yee being described as an “internet troll” who is “all over the internet saying fantastic things.” and that any comments Yee made online should be taken with skepticism.

However, prosecutors say they obtained messages Yee exchanged between April and July last year that included nude photos he requested and received from the girl and nude photos of himself that he sent to the minor.

CST reported that the prosecutors said the girl repeatedly brought up her age in the messages and in other messages, Yee instructed the teenager to remove her age from her profile on WhatsApp, the messaging service they used to communicate.

It was said that the girl reached out to a group “interested in exposing pedophiles,” when their relationship eventually soured and the Homeland Security officials were notified.

Yee was taken into custody Thursday at his home, prosecutors said.

CST reported that Yee made several attempts to defend himself, claiming he had information he could provide about his case but was told by his assistant public defender to keep his mouth shut.

Judge John F. Lyke Jr. reportedly said that the charges were significantly more than an “online troll” who was “trying to get a rise out of someone.”

Yee was held on US$1 million bail and banned from using the internet while he awaits trial. He is expected to return to court on 5 Nov.

If convicted, Yee’s asylum status could be terminated.

Melissa Chen, a US human rights activist who had denounced Yee’s actions back in 2018 shared that the case was brought to the Homeland Security after an anonymous tip off was made to her on Twitter and that she had been assisting on the matter for a year.

She asks that anyone else who is a victim to reach out to her.

Background of Yee

For those who have forgotten who Yee is, he was this 16-year-old teenager who got into trouble in 2015 after making a video about late Lee Kuan Yew after his passing. 8 police officers turned up at his home to arrest him in cuffs after more than 20 police reports were filed against him. While some were in response to Yee’s passing remarks on Christianity but majority of the reports centered around him disparaging the revered political leader.

Yee was detained in police custody and eventually found guilty of the charge of obscenity for having uploaded a picture of the late Singapore prime minister in a sexual depiction with the former British prime minister, the late Margaret Thatcher and charge of wounding the feelings of Christians for remarks he made in a video of Mr Lee and the Christian religious icon, Jesus Christ, which he had uploaded onto Youtube. He was released on the spot in May 2015 after his sentence was read as he had already been detained past the sentenced term by the judge.

Yee subsequently got into trouble again for his blog and video posts in 2017 where he was sentenced to six weeks’ jail, after he pleaded guilty to six charges for wounding the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims.

After being detained in December 2016 by US officials for declaring himself as a visitor to the country despite applying for political asylum in US, a Chicago immigration judge concluded in March 2017 that the Singapore government persecuted Yee on account of his political opinion, and that Yee is deserving of asylum as a matter of discretion. Although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed an appeal against the decision to grant Yee asylum, the court of appeal upheld the decision of the immigration judge in September 2017.

 

 

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