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Man who was jailed in the US after spying for China arrested by ISD upon return to S’pore

The Internal Security Department said that Dickson Yeo will be interviewed to establish if he had engaged in activities prejudicial to Singapore’s security

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Dickson Yeo, the Singaporean man who spied for China while in the US has been arrested after returning to Singapore on Wednesday (Dec 30), said the Internal Security Department (ISD).

He was arrested under the Internal Security Act upon his return. Yeo has admitted in the United States federal court to have worked for the Chinese intelligence for monetary rewards. He was subsequently sentenced to 14 months in prison by a US court on Oct 9.

The ISD said that Yeo will be interviewed to establish if he had engaged in activities prejudicial to Singapore’s security.

According to a CNA report, the agency added: “Singapore will not allow our nationals to be subverted or used by any foreign actors for activities prejudicial to our security and national interests”.

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“The Government takes a very serious view of any Singaporean who enters into a clandestine relationship with a foreign government and engages in espionage or subversive activities at the behest of the foreign power”, it said, adding that it will deal firmly with such individuals in accordance with Singapore’s laws.

On Nov 7 last year, Mr Yeo was approached by FBI agents at John F Kennedy (JFK) airport to do a voluntary interview.

During the voluntary, non-custodial interview, Mr Yeo was “forthcoming about his activities”, admitting that he worked for Chinese intelligence services, the court documents said.

“After the interview, Yeo agreed to continue meeting with the FBI. The next day, Yeo was arrested and taken into custody,” the sentencing memorandum said.

According to a Straits Times report, Mr Yeo’s lawyer, Michelle Peterson said: “He did not betray Singapore and he does not bear any malice towards the United States or any US citizens. He was deeply attracted to China and its ability to uplift millions from poverty with industrial policy, which led him to be easily influenced”.

During his time in the US, Mr Yeo used social media to target American military and government employees who had access to sensitive information and persuaded them to write reports for cash. He would then pass these reports to his handlers from the Chinese intelligence services.

“When he was approached at the airport, he was free to leave. Nevertheless, he agreed instead to be debriefed by the agents. He deplaned when he did not have to do so, and fully debriefed,” Ms Peterson said. /TISG

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