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Singaporean Dickson Yeo, who spied for China in the US, tried to gather info on Singapore for foreign handlers: ISD

SINGAPORE — A 40-year-old Singaporean who was previously jailed in the United States for spying for China has been served with a detention order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for acting as a paid agent of a foreign state.

Singaporean Dickson Yeo, who spied for China in the US, tried to gather info on Singapore for foreign handlers: ISD

Dickson Yeo (pictured), a Singaporean, was arrested by the Internal Security Department on Dec 30, 2020 upon his deportation from the United States.

  • Dickson Yeo was served with a detention order under the ISA on Jan 29
  • ISD said his continued detention is necessary to facilitate a probe into the full extent of his activities
  • Investigations found that he was tasked to source information relating to Singapore

 

SINGAPORE — A 40-year-old Singaporean who was previously jailed in the United States for spying for China has been served with a detention order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for acting as a paid agent of a foreign state.

In a press release on Tuesday (June 15), the Internal Security Department (ISD) said that it had served the order on Dickson Yeo on Jan 29, and his continued detention is necessary to facilitate an investigation into the full extent of his activities. 

Yeo was a PhD student of public policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) in the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He was arrested by ISD on Dec 30 last year upon his deportation from the United States, after he had served a 14-month jail sentence for acting within the US as an illegal agent of a foreign power without first notifying the Attorney General. 

When he was arrested, ISD had said that he would be interviewed to establish if he had engaged in activities prejudicial to Singapore’s security. 

In its update on Tuesday, the agency said its investigations have established that Yeo was tasked to source information and provide reports on issues of interest to his foreign handlers, including information relating to Singapore.

ISD did not name the country where these foreign handlers resided.

Yeo had approached various individuals in Singapore to try to get information for the purpose of writing his reports, ISD added. 

He had set up a front company here as a cover for his information-gathering activities as well as recruitment for his foreign handlers.

Yeo had even tried, but failed, to secure employment in the Singapore Government to further such activities, ISD said.

He had carried out these activities from 2016 until his arrest in the US in 2019.

Yeo has also since admitted to having worked for the intelligence apparatus of a foreign state and carrying out various tasks given to him by his foreign handlers in exchange for monetary gains, ISD said.

He admitted to being fully aware that his foreign handlers were working for the intelligence apparatus of the foreign state as well.

“The Singapore Government takes a very serious view of anyone who enters into a clandestine relationship with a foreign government and engages in activities at the behest of the foreign power that is inimical to our national security and interests, including bilateral relations,” ISD said.

US court documents on Yeo stated that he had provided classified information to China by using his US-based political consultancy as a front for Chinese intelligence services between 2015 and 2019.

To do so, Yeo hired US military and government insiders with high security clearances to write reports for his consultancy, telling them that they were meant for his clients in Asia.

Instead, Yeo sent the reports that he thought contained interesting information to his China handlers.

Yeo is the second LKYSPP member found to have been acting on behalf of a foreign state after Professor Huang Jing, who happened to be Yeo’s PhD supervisor.

Prof Huang was a former LKYSPP professor who was expelled by Singapore in 2017 for acting as a foreign agent of influence. 

US court documents stated that Yeo was recruited by Chinese intelligence during his time in NUS. 

Prof Huang has denied recruiting Yeo, whose candidature at LKYSPP was terminated after the US court charged him with the offence of working as a foreign agent.

In response to TODAY's queries, LKYSPP said that these incidents showed "how different sectors in our society, including education, can be potential targets for foreign subversion", adding that the best safeguard against illegal foreign subversion is a community that is aware and vigilant.

"The school has strengthened its oversight and risk-awareness procedures in relation to our education and research," it said.

"We maintain an enhanced oversight on academic collaborations and partnerships, both local and overseas, and will also continue to keep a heightened awareness among all our staff and students on the risks of foreign interference."

It also said that it will not tolerate any acts or activities of foreign interference that threaten the country’s national security or interests. "Our staff and students are expected to conduct themselves fully in accordance with the laws of Singapore at all times."

Related topics

Dickson Yeo USA China spying Internal Security Act Internal Security Department

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