There isn't technology available yet that can police our thoughts, but that doesn't prevent many governments around the world from jailing, torturing or killing people because of what they believe. Because of his political opinions (or perceived political opinions), a 17-year-old Egyptian boy spent a week in jail. Now, he is in the United States and has applied for asylum in an effort to prevent being sent back to Egypt and, possibly, jail.
While the young man is not in Pennsylvania, his story is so similar to many other people's applying for asylum here. Applicants flee countries whose governments arrest and torture them because of who they support politically or for what they believe. These people belong to political parties that ask to be treated fairly or for their rights, but are crushed instead.
This young man's journey to the United States came because of his skill with science and technology. The teen was invited to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, but it was as he was being escorted back to the airport for his return flight to Egypt that he made the decision to remain in the country. He is currently staying in Los Angeles until his case is decided.
Political opinion is just one of the categories the U.S. government recognizes when looking at asylum applications. Had this young man been targeted for his religious beliefs, his national origin, his race or membership in a particular social group, he could also have applied for asylum. As for now, he is just waiting to be given permission to remain in the country.
Source: The New York Times, "Egyptian, 17, Seeks Asylum After Traveling to Intel Science Fair," Jennifer Medina and Ian Lovett, May 21, 2014