Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics, where U.S. research engineer Shane Todd worked before he died, doesn’t do classified military-related research, according to an executive director at the institute.
“IME is not interested in any classified research,” Patrick Lo, deputy executive director of research, told a coroner’s inquest at the Singapore subordinate court today. “The IME is an economic agency.”
Todd may have been killed because of his “highly sensitive” work in the gallium nitride field at the institute and possible technology transfers to China’s Huawei Technologies Co., his father Rick has said. Todd was found hanged in his Singapore apartment in June. He was 31.
The Todd family is disputing Singapore police’s initial finding of suicide. The American suffered from depression, work stress, visited suicide websites and left a suicide letter before he died, according to the city state government’s lawyers. Senior state counsel Tai Wei Shyong said a “proper determination” of Todd’s death will be made at the inquest.
The institute is a unit of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology & Research, a government center to promote scientific research. Gallium nitride, a semiconductor material, is used in devices such as Blue-ray disc players and also has defense and military uses, Lo said.
Shenzhen-based Huawei, the world’s second-largest maker of networking gear, has said it doesn’t have any cooperation with the institute in the gallium nitride field. The company’s research relates only to commercial use of telecommunications technology and not military, Huawei said.
Todd was involved in five projects at the institute including with Singapore universities, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and Huawei. The project with Huawei, ended on May 30, 2012, and was to characterize and model radio frequency devices. It wasn’t gallium nitride-related, Lo said.
The institute’s work with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Singapore’s DSO National Laboratories, which focuses on defense-related technology, are “well publicized” and don’t involve classified information, Lo said.
The institute has five contracts with Huawei and all aren’t related to gallium nitride. Huawei and IME had discussed a potential gallium nitride amplifier project which never took place as Huawei’s goal was “indeterminate,” Lo said.
Huawei said April 8 it doesn’t pose a U.S. security threat as it defends itself against foreign governments’ concerns that it aids intelligence agencies.
The Coroner’s Inquiry is Shane Truman Todd. CI002014 of 2012. Singapore Subordinate Courts.