The Financial Times reported last week that the parents of American electronics engineer Shane Todd, who died mysteriously in Singapore just before he was due to leave his job and return to the U.S. last summer, believe he was murdered in connection with his involvement in a project between his Singaporean employer and Chinese telecom giant Huawei. While local police claimed Todd hanged himself, his parents retrieved a hard drive from his apartment that detailed the project and laid seeds of doubt about the official account of his death:
Security and technology experts consulted by the FT reviewed the project plan and all noted its civilian and potential military applications. Robert York, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara – a world leader in GaN research and where Shane earned a doctorate in silicon devices – said it would be “unnerving but not surprising” if Huawei were to be trying to advance its GaN technology. The high-powered amplifier has civilian use but “could be used for a number of military applications: high-powered radar, electronic warfare including signal jamming and even potentially some weapons”, Professor York added.
Shane, it turns out, had deep misgivings about the project he was working on and feared he was compromising US national security. His family wants to know whether that project sent him to his grave.
Huawei denied on Monday that it had worked with IME on the project in question, according to Reuters:
“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.
At 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.
Huawei 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.