Chinese telecommunications company Huawei said on Monday it had not
worked with an institute in Singapore on any projects in the specialist
field of an American engineer who died mysteriously last year shortly
after leaving the institute.
Britain's Financial Times said on
Saturday that Shane Todd had been working on "what was apparently a
joint project" between Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics, or
IME, and Huawei shortly before he died last June.
His parents have
said he was murdered because of his involvement in the project, which
they say involved exporting sensitive military technology to China.
IME declined immediate comment.
police said they were still investigating the death of Todd, 31, and
would submit their evidence to a coroner. Singaporean pathologists
concluded in an autopsy last June that he died by hanging in his
"IME approached Huawei on one occasion to
cooperate with them in the GaN field, but we decided not to accept, and
consequently do not have any cooperation with IME related to GaN,"
Huawei said in a statement.
Todd's area of expertise was Gallium
Nitride (GaN), an advanced semiconductor material which has both
commercial and military purposes. It is used in things from blue-ray
disc players to military radars.
Huawei said that the development of GaN technology was commonplace across the telecommunications industry.
reviewed evidence the family presented supporting its theory a few
weeks after his death, including emails, other documents and
Interviews with the family, colleagues and friends
revealed conflicting views on Todd's state of mind before his death, the
nature of his work and how he died.
Colleagues said that he was
increasingly depressed in his last few months, but said that his
concerns appeared to centre on a sense of failure about his work, and an
ambivalence about returning to the United States.
unrelated fields have also questioned how, if his work was so sensitive,
he was able to take home computer files from his office. His family
retrieved a hard drive which included work files in his flat.
is part of a network of research institutes managed by government-run
Agency for Science, Technology and Research, or A*Star.
A*Star researcher now working in the United States pointed out that IME
and other A*Star institutes were not military research organisations.
the heart of the family's theory is that Todd was concerned for his
safety because of a project with a Chinese company. They believed,
through information from his colleagues and from his computer files,
that the company was Huawei.
Reuters can't independently corroborate their views about the role of Huawei or the circumstances of Todd's death.
is one of the world's largest telecommunication equipment companies,
but has been blocked from some projects in Australia and deemed a
security risk by the U.S. congress on the grounds that its equipment
could be used for spying.
Huawei has routinely denied such accusations and has said it is not linked to the Chinese government.
parents said in interviews in July that Singapore police and IME had
failed to properly investigate his death after his body was found
hanging from a door in his Singapore apartment on the evening of June
24, two days after he quit IME.
Singapore police say they have
handled the case as they have handled other cases, and their procedures
follow high international standards. They said in such cases of
unnatural death, "no prior assumptions" were made about the cause.
parents did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment on the
Financial Times report but Todd's mother, Mary, said in a telephone
interview with Reuters last July that he had been scared.
been talking to him for months for at least an hour every week and he
told us he was afraid of being murdered because of his contacts with the
Chinese government," she said.
"He quit his job because of it."
declined to say whether they had been working on other projects with
IME. Colleagues said shortly after Todd's death that he had told them at
one point he had been working on a project with Huawei but that it was
not sensitive or high-level in nature.
One described it as carrying out "measurement test reports" of semiconductors.
Financial Times said that Todd had been involved in proposing a joint
project with Huawei. While it did not say whether the project was
approved, it quoted his parents as saying that subsequently he
complained to them of being asked to do things with a Chinese company he
did not identify that made him uncomfortable.
© Thomson Reuters 2013