The parents of a U.S. electronics engineer who was found hanged in Singapore last year say the FBI is “handcuffed” from launching a proper investigation by the police there, but are pressing their case with the island city-state’s ambassador.
Shane Todd, 31, was expected to return to the U.S. for a new job before a friend found his body hanging from the bathroom door in his apartment in June.
Family and friends said he was not depressed but was increasingly anxious about the implications for U.S. national security of his work with a high-tech government agency in Singapore and its Chinese silent partner.
His father, Richard Todd, is in Washington this week to meet with the Singaporean ambassador and to press the family’s case with lawmakers. He told The Washington Times that the FBI could not get involved in the case except at the request of the Singapore Police Force.
Last weekend, the police asked the bureau to act, but only to recover two pieces of evidence believed to be in the United States.
A State Department official told The Times that Singaporean authorities “have requested FBI assistance regarding the death of Shane Todd,” adding that the request “is focused on issues entirely within the United States.”
“To be clear, the investigation into Shane’s death continues to be led by the Singaporean police,” the official said.
“That is not good enough,” Mr. Todd said, adding that Singaporean authorities “want a partial investigation; we want a full investigation.”
Mr. Todd said both senators from the family’s home state of Montana — Democrats John Tester and Max Baucus — met Tuesday with Singaporean Ambassador to the U.S. Ashok Kumar Mirpuri.
“They pressed him pretty hard,” he said.
Mr. Todd and his wife, Mary, were scheduled to meet with the ambassador later Tuesday. “I want to look him in the eye,” he said.
A spokesman for the Singaporean Embassy in Washington did not return phone calls and an email requesting comment.
Mr. Todd believes the Singapore Police Force — at best — botched the investigation into his son’s death. At worst, it is part of a conspiracy that killed him because he learned too much about Singapore’s shady technology transfer deals with China.
“They are trying to cover their tracks,” he said of the Singaporean police. “They have lied to us from the beginning.”
The Todds said they already were disturbed by discrepancies in the police account of how their son died when they found an external computer hard drive in his apartment, brought it back to the United States and had it examined by a computer forensic analyst.
The drive appeared to be a copy of the hard disk from their son’s laptop — the original of which had been retained by the police in Singapore.
The drive’s logs show that it had been accessed after Shane’s death and that his Singaporean employer had been using him to obtain “dual-use” technology — with commercial and military applications — from a U.S. firm.
Now the Singaporean police want the hard drive they gave to the Todd family and they have asked the FBI to obtain it, along with another piece of evidence, a decade-old psychological evaluation Shane underwent at graduate school after suffering from overwork-related stress.