The suspicious death of an American employed in Singapore sent that country’s foreign minister into meetings on Capitol Hill today.
Shane Todd was a young engineer working for a top technology firm in the island nation when he was found dead in his apartment. Local police ruled it an apparent suicide, but the circumstances of his death and his employer’s connection to a Chinese corporation known to the U.S. government as a national security concern have percolated the incident into the public sphere.
Today, Singapore Foreign Minister K Shanmugan met with Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who along with that state’s other senator, Jon Tester, has been pushing for American investigators to take the lead in reviewing the case.
In a press conference before the meeting, Baucus said progress on the case has been slow, and said he’d press the foreign minister to allow the FBI full access to the evidence in the case.
“We need independent, third party verification of whatever the Singaporean police has been saying,” he said, adding he hoped the Federal Bureau of Investigation could fill that role. Baucus says he spoke with the FBI Director Robert Mueller about the issue Monday.
The senator says he has not been satisfied with the limited access granted to U.S. investigators thus far.
“So far we’ve been unable to get the answers we need to know what happened to Shane Todd,” Baucus said.
Todd’s family has reported their son was in fear of his life at the time of his death, and had recently resigned from his position at Singaporean tech firm IME’s research department and made preparations to move back to the United States.
The Montana native claimed his work on superconductors for the company may have been passed to China’s Huawei corporation, for use in systems that could involve jamming American radar.
Severely inaccurate crime scene reports and a suicide note that made up family memories prompted the Todds to bring the issue to their state senators, asking for a congressional investigation.
Baucus has repeatedly noted that there was no clear evidence the young engineer was murdered, but the strangeness of the elements of the incident “adds up.”
“It seems fishy,” he said. “I have deep concerns about potential foul play and potential breaches of national security but I don’t have the facts yet.”
When asked by reporters, Baucus said the diplomatic relations between the country had not changed, but indicated the government would respond if it found evidence Singapore had been “stonewalling” investigations.