Amos Yee
Amos Yee, 18, stands outside the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services offices after his release in Chicago, Illinois, Sept. 26, 2017. Reuters/ Chris Kenning

A Singaporean blogger and YouTube personality, Amos Yee, has been freed from a prison in the United States and finally granted a political asylum in the country after a judge dismissed an appeal made by the U.S. government against his asylum status on Tuesday.

Yee fled Singapore in December after his controversial blog posts against the government of his country landed him in prison. He came to the U.S. to seek political asylum; however, as soon as he landed at the O’Hare International Airport in Illinois, the U.S. law enforcement officers arrested the 18-year-old free speech advocate and put him behind bars, South China Morning Post reported.

Yee was born on Oct. 31, 1998, to Alphonsus Yee and Mary Toh Ai Buay. He attended Pei Chun Public School and later dropped out of the Zhonghua Secondary School despite excelling in academics. Even though his family is Catholic, Yee identifies himself as an atheist.

He started his career as a child artist at the age of 13. He wrote and directed the film, “Jan,” in which he portrayed four different roles. For his extraordinary efforts, he bagged a number of local filmmaking awards including “The New Paper First Film Festival” for “Best Short Film” and “Best Actor.”

The teenager started his own YouTube channel on July 28, 2012, and posted his first video — a review of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” However, he became recognized as the next big sensation on social media only after he uploaded a sketch titled “How To Speak Singlish,” which went viral.

Yee was embroiled in controversies after he started making comedy sketches on serious issues such as “Homosexuality In Singapore.” The mild controversies escalated to a full-blown legal battle when Yee compared Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, to Jesus Christ. He claimed that both were “power-hungry and malicious” in a bold video titled “Lee Kuan Yew is Finally Dead!” after the leader’s death, a website dedicated to biographies of eminent people, Famous People reported.

As Yee's video split the internet into two — his supporters and haters — his mother came forward issuing an apology to the nation and filed a police complaint against him. Her police report prompted outrage from many others, all of whom accused Yee of "deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings", "threatening, abusive or insulting communication" and "obscenity."

He was arrested in March 2015 and again in September 2016, and convicted on both the occasions. But none of his prison terms were for long. He has since been taken to see a psychiatrist, slapped by a man in front of the media, and called a liar for falsely claiming that his counselor, who had arranged his bail, had molested him.

Back in March, a Chicago immigration judge ruled that Yee had a “well-founded fear” of being persecuted if he were to return to Singapore. “He (Yee) suffered past persecution on account of his political opinion and had a well-founded fear of future persecution in Singapore,” the judge said. He also added the reason behind Yee’s imprisonment in Singapore was to stifle the freedom of exercising his political opinion.

Amos Yee
Supporters of Singapore teenage blogger Amos Yee hold up a banner outside the state court in Singapore, July 6, 2015. Getty Images/ MOHD FYROL

The ruling was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals on Tuesday. With his newly asserted status, Yee will also be able to apply for a green card. “We welcome the board’s decision and we welcome it because it’s a decision that’s grounded in law and in fact,” Yee’s attorney Sandra Grossman said. “He was persecuted because of political beliefs.”

After walking out of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Chicago, Illinois, as a free man, Yee said he was feeling “stunned” and categorized the experience as “surreal” but also added he did not plan to rein back his activism against the Singaporean government anytime soon. “I’ll continue leading life as usual,” Yee said Tuesday. “I have plans for more videos, much of it criticizing the Singapore government, but I think maybe I broaden my work to US politics too since I’m here.”