March 8, 2017 / 12:22 AM / 3 years ago

U.S. judge to rule on Singaporean blogger's asylum request

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A judge is expected to issue a decision in the case of a Singaporean blogger who is seeking asylum in the United States in around two weeks, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Teen blogger Amos Yee leaves with his parents after his sentencing from the State Court in Singapore July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Amos Yee, 18, who has been jailed twice in the Southeast Asian city-state, has been held at a detention facility outside of Chicago since arriving at O’Hare International Airport on Dec. 16 seeking political asylum.

After an hours-long hearing in a federal immigration court in Chicago, Sandra Grossman, Yee’s attorney, said a written decision would be issued in around two weeks.

The hearing was closed to the press to protect the identity of an individual providing testimony, Grossman said, and details were not released.

Yee appeared by video for the hearing, Grossman said.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam, secretary general of the Reform Party, an opposition party in Singapore, said he gave testimony on the country’s treatment of political dissidents.

Jeyaretnam, who spoke outside the court room on Tuesday, has said previously he supports Yee’s asylum application and that the government of Singapore has persecuted and harassed Yee.

The Singapore Embassy in Washington could not be reached for comment regarding Yee’s case because it was after business hours.

Yee has been jailed twice in Singapore for online comments. His trials, which have been closely watched by rights groups and the United Nations, have fuelled the debate in Singapore over censorship, the limits of free speech and political correctness.

In September of last year, Yee pleaded guilty to six charges of deliberately posting comments on the internet - in videos, blog posts and a picture - that were critical of Christianity and Islam. He was sentenced to six weeks in jail.

In 2015, Yee was convicted on charges of harassment and insulting a religious group over comments he made about former premier Lee Kuan Yew and Christians soon after Lee’s death. His sentence at the time amounted to four weeks in jail.

Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler

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