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‘Internet troll’ Amos Yee charged with child porn

The former Singaporean national was granted asylum in the U.S. after he was jailed twice overseas as a teenager for his controversial posts.

Amos Yee, a teenage blogger from Singapore, talks to reporters outside of the U.S. immigration field office after being released from federal custody following a U.S. immigration appeals court’s decision to uphold his bid for asylum, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Chicago.
Amos Yee
AP

Blogger, YouTuber and all around “internet troll” Amos Yee allegedly exchanged nude photos and “thousands” of messages with a 14-year-old Texas girl while he was living in Chicago.

The 21-year-old Singaporean national, who appeared at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Friday for solicitation and possession of child porn charges, gained international fame when he was jailed at 16 in his home country for controversial and obscene online posts he made following the death of the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 2015.

He was jailed again in 2016 for “wounding religious feelings” over his social media posts on on Christianity and Islam, according to an NPR.

Yee fled Singapore and was granted asylum in the United States after being detained at O’Hare Airport by immigration officials.

He has been living in Chicago for about three years, Cook County prosecutors said.

Yee again generated controversy in the U.S. when he began posting to his now-removed YouTube channel advocating for pedophiles, and prosecutors said Yee also ran a pro-pedophile forum on a message board.

In a headline-grabbing post to YouTube last year, 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 online notoriety was the basis of his defense 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.

Amos Yee arrest photo
Amos Yee
Chicago police

But those public comments are likely the least of Yee’s concerns, given that 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.

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

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 Thursday at his home, prosecutors said.

During his bond hearing Friday, Yee made several attempts to defend himself, claiming he had information he could provide about his case.

“Do not open your mouth right now, Amos,” the assistant public defender repeatedly warned him. “Just keep your mouth shut.”

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

Lyke ordered Yee held on $1 million bail and banned from using the internet while he awaits trial.

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

Yee is expected back in court Nov. 5.