Researcher's death: Police had examined a hard drive

THE hard drive at the centre of American researcher Shane Todd's contentious death last year may have already been examined by the Singapore police.

The Singapore Police Force yesterday posted a statement on its website, saying: "In the course of its investigations, the police had examined the deceased's computers and a hard disk drive."

They had taken them from Dr Todd's home. "This disk drive was subsequently handed over, with acknowledgement, to the next-of-kin."

It is unclear whether this is the same hard drive - in the Todd family's possession - which has fuelled their belief that Dr Todd was murdered. The family lives in the United States and could not be contacted by press time.

Dr Todd's parents alleged in a news report last Friday that their 32-year-old son might have been killed because of his work at Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME), part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research. They said a hard drive they found at their son's apartment soon after his apparent suicide supposedly contains thousands of work files.

Among these files, they claim, is a plan by IME to work with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, which has been suspected of espionage by the United States government. Huawei has denied this.

Both IME and Huawei have said they did not go beyond talks on a commercial project.

In the same website statement, the police said: "Should the next-of-kin be in possession of other evidence, they should provide it to the police to assist in their investigations."

The statement added the police had communicated with the family numerous times and met them four times, and had also reviewed all the family's information and analysis reports the family had commissioned and shared.

Separately, IME also posted a statement on its website on Tuesday that said "neither IME nor Shane was involved in any classified research project" and added that it was unable to comment further because the death is still under police investigation.

FENG ZENGKUN