SINGAPORE: Teen blogger Amos Yee has been granted asylum by a US immigration court despite opposition from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), his attorney announced on Tuesday (Sep 26).
Sandra Grossman, a pro bono counsel to Yee from legal firm Grossman Law, said in a statement that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) had dismissed DHS' appeal opposing a decision by a lower court to grant Yee asylum.
The court wrote in its ruling last Thursday that Yee, 18, had a "well founded fear of future persecution" if returned to Singapore and agreed with the lower court judge that Singapore's prosecution of Yee was "a pretext" to silence his political opinions, according to Ms Grossman.
“Now I can criticise the Singapore government without being sent to prison,” Yee said after his release.
The Singaporean was sentenced in July 2015 to four weeks' jail for wounding the religious feelings of Christians and Muslims, and was sentenced to another six weeks' jail for the same offence last September.
Yee's mother, Madam Mary Toh, confirmed last December that he was detained in the United States. He has remained in detention, despite the lower court's decision to grant him asylum in March.
Ms Grossman said in the statement that her firm decried the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s decision to detain Yee while DHS' appeal was pending, "especially after his asylum case was granted and after DHS made no arguments, nor presented evidence, that Yee is a threat to national security or to the public".
"Grossman Law calls on ICE and the administration to revisit its detention policies and condemns the prolonged detention of those fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the United States," she said.
She also said that the "possibility also remains for a DHS appeal, though this is unlikely given the Board's unambiguous decision".