Amos Yee charged in US court for solicitation and possession of child porn

·Editorial Team
·2-min read
Amos Yee after his release from detention in Chicago in 2017.
Amos Yee after his release from detention in Chicago in 2017. (PHOTO: Reuters/Chris Kenning)

SINGAPORE — Singaporean blogger Amos Yee, who gained notoriety for being jailed for controversial social media posts in 2015 and 2016, was charged with solicitation and possession of child porn in an Illinois court on Friday (16 October).

According to Chicago Sun Times, the 20-year-old allegedly exchanged nude photos and “thousands” of messages with a 14-year-old Texas girl while he was living in Chicago.

Prosecutors said they obtained messages Yee exchanged between April and July 2019 with the girl, who repeatedly brought up her age. Yee had also instructed the teenager to remove her age from her profile on WhatsApp in the messages.

When their relationship eventually soured and the girl reached out to a group “interested in exposing pedophiles”, Homeland Security officials were notified, prosecutors said. Yee was taken into custody on Thursday at his home.

Jailed in 2015 and 2016, fled in 2017

Yee, was jailed in 2015 in Singapore for controversial and obscene online posts he made following the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. He was jailed again in 2016 for “wounding religious feelings” over his social media posts on on Christianity and Islam.

He fled Singapore in 2017 and was granted asylum in the United States after being detained at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport by immigration officials. He has been living in Chicago for about three years, prosecutors said.

He continued to court controversy as he advocated for pedophiles on his now-removed YouTube channel, and ran a pro-pedophile forum on a message board, prosectors said on Friday.

In a headline-grabbing post to YouTube last year, Yee addressed rumours of an inappropriate relationship with a young girl, in which he “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.

Amos Yee mugshot. (PHOTO: Chicago Police/Screenshot)
Amos Yee mugshot. (PHOTO: Chicago Police/Screenshot)

Charges significantly more than an ‘online troll’

According to Chicago Sun Times, Yee’s online notoriety was the basis of his defence on Friday when his assistant public defender described him as an “internet troll” who is “all over the internet saying fantastic things.”

Any comments Yee made online should be taken with skepticism, his attorney argued.

Judge John F Lyke was unswayed, saying the charges were significantly more than an “online troll” who was “trying to get a rise out of someone.”

He ordered Yee to be held on US$1 million (S$1.36 million) bail and banned from using the internet while he awaits trial.

If convicted, Yee’s asylum status could be terminated. He is expected to be back in court on 5 November.

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore

More Singapore stories:

AGC flags social media posts alleging racial bias in wake of Orchard Towers case

Singapore Athletics, marathoner Soh Rui Yong call truce over legal dispute

COVID Career Change: New opportunities in emotional times for fitness trainer

Apex court throws out heroin trafficker's bid to escape the gallows

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting