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Singapore Teen Amos Yee Guilty of Insulting Christians, Posting Lewd Cartoon of Late PM

Yee was arrested in March after posting an expletive-ridden video berating the country's founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, following his death.
Photo by Wong Maye-E/AP

The outspoken Singaporean teenager who insulted the country's founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew, in an expletive-ridden YouTube video following his death has had his day in court.

Following a brief trial, 16-year-old blogger Amos Yee was found guilty Tuesday of distributing an obscene image of Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March at age 91. Yee was also convicted of hurting the feelings of Christians, whom he was accused of broadly disparaging in the video.


The image Yee posted online features a photo of Lee Kuan Yew's face superimposed onto a cartoon drawing of a man in a wheelbarrow sexual position with a woman bearing the face of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Prosecutors spared Yee from being found guilty of a third charge of verbally insulting and abusing the former Singaporean leader in the video under the country's Protection from Harassment Act.

Lee presided over the wealthy city-state's development for 31 years and was beloved by many Singaporeans, but Yee's video pointedly criticized him for being autocratic, and highlighted what he saw as inequity, fear, and repression in the country. Though the video was made private shortly after his arrest, it has been re-uploaded by other YouTube users and viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Related: 'Come at Me, Motherfucker': Singapore Arrests Teen for Video Insulting the Late Lee Kuan Yew

The eight-minute video, titled "Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead," briefly compares Lee to various dictators who flash across the screen — Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler — before Yee likens him unfavorably to Jesus Christ: "They are both power hungry and malicious but deceive others into thinking that they are compassionate and kind."

"Lee Kuan Yew, contrary to popular belief, was a horrible person and an awful leader to our country," Yee says in the video. "He was a dictator but managed to fool most of the world to think he was democratic."


Related: Singapore Teen Blogger Who Insulted Deceased PM Pleads Not Guilty

The charges and conviction against Yee have been condemned by human rights groups, especially those who previously criticized Lee's government for cracking down on political opposition within Singapore and placing restrictions on freedom of speech. Some rights activists view the country's political system, dominated by Lee's People's Action Party, as fostering social control for the sake of stability and security at the expense of civil liberty.

In the video, Yee declares that he's "not afraid" of repercussions.

"If Lee Hsien Loong wishes to sue me, I will oblige to dance with him," he says, referring to Lee's son, Singapore's present prime minister. "Come at me, motherfucker."

The teen's father later apologized to the prime minister at a press conference outside the court.

Yee was bailed shortly after his arrest in March, but violated one of his bail conditions by posting more public material online and was back in custody on April 30. On Yee's way to court, a 49-year-old stranger slapped Yee in the face.

The man was charged with voluntarily causing hurt and was sentenced to three weeks in prison after pleading guilty on Tuesday.

Yee was released on $10,000 bail following his conviction. Despite initially facing as many as three years in prison, prosecutors requested that the teen undergo a probation report and counseling. After the report is delivered, he will reappear in court on June 2 for a final decision on sentencing.

After receiving the verdict, Yee expressed mixed feelings about the court's ruling.

"I don't know, I can't decide," he told reporters outside the court. "I don't know if I should celebrate my release or mourn my sentence."

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields