After intense lobbying by a US Senator, the Secretary of State, and the US Attorney General, Singapore will conduct an official coroner's inquiry into the unexpected death of American engineer Shane Todd, starting on May 13.
Todd told friends and family that he was working on a joint project for his employer, a Singaporean government research agency, and the partially state-owned Chinese company Huawei. There is some evidence that the project had military implications, and Todd had told his family he was worried that his work could get him "in trouble with the US government." The agency and Huawei say the project never went beyond exploratory talks.
Todd had quit and was about to start a new job when his girlfriend found his body hanging in his apartment. Singaporean police determined the death was a suicide. Both the local authorities and Todd's employer were hostile and uncooperative toward Todd's family — especially after his parents found a hard drive in his apartment and refused to turn it over.
"I now have reason to believe that I'm risking my safety by talking any more about this."
Questions were first raised by a Financial Times investigative report that suggested there was more to the story. It's a sad tale either way, but a high-profile inquiry will help determine whether this was a tragic suicide or a chilling case of corporate or even government corruption. Evidence found on Todd's hard drive, along with nonsequiters such as a suicide notes that praised the employer he allegedly hated and bruises on his hands, contributed to the Todd family's suspicions.
The Verge attempted to talk to one of Todd's associates, who balked after the Financial Times story started to get traction. "I now have reason to believe that I'm risking my safety by talking any more about this," he said in an email, and then stopped responding.
Singaporean authorities will also cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, something they had initially declined to do.