- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A 31-year-old U.S. citizen, whose questionable death in June is believed by authorities in Singapore to have been a suicide, had defensive wounds on his body and hands and had tried unsuccessfully to slip his fingers under a garrote that had been wrapped tightly around his neck to end his life, his family says.

Shane Todd, 31, an electrical engineer who worked for the Singapore-based Institute for Microelectronics (IME), was found hanging from a bathroom door in his Singapore apartment in what local police authorities called a suicide, but his mother, Mary, said her son “put up quite a fight.”

“His knuckles were bruised. You could see by his fingers that he had tried to slip them under the wire that was around his neck. He had obvious defensive wounds,” Mrs. Todd told The Washington Times on Wednesday, recounting an autopsy review by a U.S. pathologist hired by the family and what the family saw once the body was returned home.

Mrs. Todd, who said her son was being threatened and pressured to compromise U.S. security, also had a bruise on his forehead that indicated he had been “head-butted.”

Shane Todd reportedly was involved in research for IME and a Chinese partner firm, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., which was aimed at developing a device powered by gallium nitride, a semiconductor material that can improve cellphone and radar technology and has uses in civilian and military technology.

“He told us that if we did not contact him every week to immediately email him,” Rick Todd, Shane’s father, told The Times. “If we did not hear from him, we were to contact the U.S. Embassy immediately.”


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Dr. Edward H. Adelstein, chief of pathology at the Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital in Missouri, said in his report that marks and bruises on Todd’s throat, forehead, neck and hands indicated that the 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound man died after a struggle.

The Todd family recovered a computer hard drive from their son’s apartment in Singapore when they went there to pack up his belongings. Mr. Todd said an analysis of the hard drive raised more questions about his son’s death, noting that it showed that someone tried to access the computer after his son’s body was discovered. He said the family would turn over the hard drive to investigators if the FBI got fully involved in the investigation

Mr. Todd said he had a “brief meeting” Tuesday with Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore’s ambassador to the United States, and “made it known” that the family wants a full FBI investigation into the death.

“We need there to be independent oversight [of the Singaporean police investigation] by an agency that we have confidence in,” he said, adding that police in Singapore “repeatedly lied” to the family about the circumstances of Shane’s death and about the progress of their investigation.

“[The ambassador] was very gracious,” he said. “He promised to relay our request to his government.”

Shane Todd’s body was found in his apartment on June 24 by his girlfriend, Shirley Sarmiento. He had purchased airline tickets to return to his Marion, Mont., home on July 1.

Shane was an avid athlete, a rugby player, a championship wrestler, a water skier, a snowboarder and a baseball pitcher with quite an arm,” Mrs. Todd said. “He loved life. He was looking to the future. He was coming home. He would never have killed himself.”

In a statement, the Singaporean Embassy extended its “deepest condolences to the Todd family,” adding that the investigation that began with the Todd death in June is “still ongoing and the Singapore Police will pursue every lead and examine the different angles thoroughly.”

In the meeting with the Todd family, the ambassador “reiterated that a public coroner’s inquiry would be held upon the conclusion of the investigation, and that the coroner would review the investigation findings in an open and transparent manner,” the statement said. “The ambassador told the Todds they will be invited to attend the coroner’s inquiry.”

Huawei, a Chinese-based telecommunications company, was identified by congressional investigators in October as one of two firms U.S. companies should avoid doing business with if they wanted to protect themselves and their country. It was accused by a congressional committee of making equipment for the global market that secretly sent data back to China and had flaws that allowed hackers to infiltrate computer and phone networks. The allegations were outlined in an extensive report following a yearlong investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The Todd family believes the young engineer was murdered and have pressed their case with elected officials and law enforcement authorities in Washington. Singaporean police have since asked the FBI to help them in the United States but have not invited them to assist on the ground in Singapore, as the family wants.

Shane Todd headed a team at IME involved in the development of gallium nitride, also known as GaN, which has proved to be valuable in military applications, including radar, electronic warfare and high security communication systems.

Rick Todd said he did not know what the project involved, but a forensics specialist hired by the family who examined the hard drive found by the family reported that Shane “was quite alarmed at what was being proposed.” An analysis of the hard drive showed that someone tried to access the computer after his son’s death, Mr. Todd said. The hard drive also documented numerous references to a project with Huawei.

Huawei, a private company founded by a former high-ranking Chinese military engineer, is among the top global suppliers of telecommunications equipment, and high-speed mobile telephone and Internet hardware. Spokesman Scott Sykes has said the company does not produce military equipment or technology or discuss it with its partners, noting that the development of GaN technology “is commonplace across the entire telecommunications industry.”

The company has rejected the intelligence subcommittee’s allegations as “baseless suggestions” and “dangerous political distractions from legitimate public-private initiatives to address what are global and industry-wide cyber challenges.”

IME managing director Raj Thampuran told the Straits Times newspaper that there were “discussions but no project ensued between IME and Huawei on amplifiers,” notwithstanding the “unfortunate consequences arising from the speculative media reports.”

“Central to this tragic incident is the demise of one of our own. We deeply grieve his loss and will for a long time to come,” he added.

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