Neutralized: Man who spied on Singapore, US for China goes free

Photo: Dickson Yeo/Facebook
Photo: Dickson Yeo/Facebook

A Singaporean man held in American and Singaporean custody over two years for being a Chinese spy was released today, according to Singapore’s security department.

The Internal Security Department said Dickson Yeo, 40, who served a prison sentence in the United States and had been held in Singapore under the Internal Security Act for feeding classified information to Beijing, was freed after being deemed no longer a threat.

“The threat that Yeo poses as a foreign agent is assessed to be effectively neutralised. As such, he does not pose a security threat that warrants continued detention,” the department said.

Yeo served a 14-month sentence after pleading guilty in 2020 to recruiting American officials to provide classified political and defense information to China. He was deported to Singapore upon his release one year ago. 

But his trouble didn’t end there. Yeo was immediately detained upon his return to Singapore, and investigators deemed he had also provided information about Singapore to China.

The ISD said its investigation concluded that Yeo did not pass on any classified information. He could be detained again if he does not comply with the unspecified conditions of his release.

In 2015, Yeo was recruited by Chinese agents through a networking site where he was invited to an academic conference overseas. 

After being recruited by Beijing, he fed agents human intelligence on matters of political and military significance for about three years. Yeo in turn fooled Americans government workers to provide him information, including at least one who worked in the Pentagon.

He was studying for a doctorate degree at the National University of Singapore’s prestigious Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the time.

Singapore intelligence officials signaled caution that such methods remain a threat.

“Singaporeans must therefore remain vigilant to such dangers posed by foreign agents, who may use social media profiles to offer attractive business or career opportunities, or even try to obtain sensitive information,” the department said. 

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