Singapore— The Internal Security Department (ISD) said on Tuesday (June 15) that Dickson Yeo, who went to jail in the US last year after he was found guilty of spying for China, was detained last December under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for acting as a paid agent for an unnamed “foreign state”.
Yeo had been a PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP). Two days after he pleaded guilty to spying for China, LKYSPP announced that his candidature had been terminated with immediate effect.
On Dec 30, 2020, Yeo, 40, was deported to Singapore after serving a 14-month jail sentence in the US. He was arrested on the day of his arrival.
The ISD then interviewed him in order to determine if he had participated in activities that would have compromised the country’s security.
CNA reports the ISD as saying the academic performed intelligence activities against Singapore from 2016 until he was arrested in 2019 in the US.
The foreign state he was working for had him looking for information and providing reports on certain issues requested by his handlers. This information included matters relating to Singapore.
ISD said, “Towards this end, he had approached various individuals in Singapore in an attempt to obtain information for the purpose of writing his reports.”
Yeo’s information gathering went to the extent of attempting to get employed by the Government and establishing a company in Singapore as a front for his activities.
He also endeavoured to recruit others.
ISD added that its “investigations established that Yeo had worked for the intelligence apparatus of a foreign state and had carried out various taskings given to him by his foreign handlers in exchange for monetary gains.
“Yeo admitted to being fully aware that his foreign handlers were working for the intelligence apparatus of the foreign state.”
The academic remains in detention as this is “necessary to facilitate probes into the full extent of his activities,” ISD added.
Yeo pleaded guilty in Washington on July 24, 2020, to being an “illegal agent of a foreign power” in the United States.
He was sentenced on Oct 9 and could have been jailed for as long as 10 years, but was only given 14 months due to his cooperation with officials in the US as well as the threat of being infected with Covid-19 while in jail.
At the time he pleaded guilty to spying for China in the US, Assistant Attorney-General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Mr John Demers said, “The Chinese government uses an array of duplicity to obtain sensitive information from unsuspecting Americans. Yeo was central to one such scheme, using career networking sites and a false consulting firm to lure Americans who might be of interest to the Chinese government. This is yet another example of the Chinese government’s exploitation of the openness of American society.”
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Guilty of spying for China: Singaporean faces jail of up to 10 years in US