Fri, Sep 30, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Teen blogger sent back to jail for insulting religion

Reuters, SINGAPORE

A Singapore court yesterday sentenced 17-year-old blogger Amos Yee to six weeks in jail for “wounding religious feelings,” his second prison term in a year, reigniting concerns about social controls and censorship in the city-state.

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.

Judge Ong Hian Sun told the court that Yee’s actions could “generate social unrest” and should not be condoned.

Yee, who was accompanied by his mother, described the sentence as “very fair.”

“I am very remorseful,” Yee told reporters outside the court, surrounded by supporters.

Yee was convicted on charges of harassment and insulting a religious group last year over comments he made about former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) and Christians soon after Lee’s death.

His sentence then amounted to four weeks in jail he had already served.

His latest month-long trial was attended by officials from the UN’s Human Rights Council and the EU, and was closely watched by rights groups.

“By prosecuting Amos Yee for his comments, no matter how outrageous they may have been, Singapore has unfortunately doubled down on a strategy that clearly violates freedom of expression,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Right Watch’s Asia division, said in an e-mail.

“For a country that prides itself on efficiency, Singapore should re-examine its approach, because every time the authorities go after him, it just adds to his online audience who are interested to find out the latest thing,” he said.

Critics say Yee’s imprisonment might further deter freedom of expression in the Asian financial hub. The Singaporean parliament passed a controversial bill last month spelling out what constitutes contempt of court, drawing criticism from rights groups and foreign diplomats.

Amnesty International called on Singapore to “repeal or amend legal provisions that criminalize peaceful dissent and end the intimidation and harassment of bloggers and other critics.”

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