Singaporean national Amos Yee has been charged with child porn in the United States.
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.
The Singaporean national appeared at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 16 for solicitation and possession of child porn charges, Chicago-Sun Times reported.
Yee has been living in Chicago for about three years, Cook County prosecutors said, as reported by Chicago-Sun Times.
Yee fled Singapore and was granted asylum in the U.S. after being detained at O’Hare Airport in Chicago by immigration officials on Dec. 16, 2016.
Exchanged nude photos
Prosecutors say they obtained messages Yee exchanged between April and July 2019.
The messages included nude photos he requested and received from the girl and nude photos of himself that he sent to her.
The minor repeatedly brought up her age in the messages, prosecutors said.
Yee instructed the girl in messages to remove her age from her profile on WhatsApp.
The teenager eventually reached out to a group “interested in exposing paedophiles” when their relationship eventually soured.
Homeland Security officials were notified, prosecutors said.
Yee was taken into custody on Thursday, Oct. 15 at his home, prosecutors said.
Tried to defend himself
During his bond hearing on Friday, Yee made several attempts to defend himself.
He claimed he had information he could provide about his case.
But he was told to shush.
“Do not open your mouth right now, Amos,” the assistant public defender repeatedly warned him, Chicago-Sun Times reported. “Just keep your mouth shut.”
Yee was held on a US$1 million bail and banned from using the internet while he awaits trial.
The judge said Yee was facing charges that were significantly more than an “online troll” who was “trying to get a rise out of someone”.
Yee advocated for paedophiles while in the U.S. where he posted videos to his now-removed YouTube channel.
Prosecutors said Yee also ran a pro-pedophile forum on a message board.
On YouTube in 2019, Yee even addressed rumours of an inappropriate relationship with a young girl.
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.
Yee’s troll identity was used as his defence at his hearing.
His assistant public defender described him as an “internet troll” who is “all over the internet saying fantastic things”.
Comments Yee made online should be taken with scepticism, his attorney argued, Chicago-Sun Times reported.
If convicted, Yee’s asylum status could be terminated.
Yee is expected back in court Nov. 5.
Melissa Chen, an outspoken activist originally from Singapore, posted on Facebook that she was the one who assisted the authorities in Yee's arrest.She wrote:
More than year ago, an individual from the community of "MAP hunters" (MAP = Minor-Attracted People) first flagged his alleged activity to me anonymously on Twitter. I took the allegations seriously, responded and verified the accusations. After speaking with the young victim, I was broken. I vowed to do all I could to get her justice and remove him from society.
We took the case to the Department of Homeland Security who conducted thorough investigations and now it's in the hands of the Chicago Police. I've been assisting in this manner for a year now, clandestinely.
Top photo via Chicago Police
Totally unrelated but follow and listen to our podcast here