Dickson Yeo's arrest puts spotlight on the shadowy world of spies

Singaporean Dickson Yeo pleaded guilty to acting within the US as an illegal agent of Chinese intelligence. PHOTO: DICKSON YEO/FACEBOOK

Singaporean Dickson Yeo's pleading guilty in a US court last month to spying for China has cast a spotlight on the world of espionage, the role technology plays and why intelligence agencies continue to tap individuals to gather sensitive information. The Straits Times reports.


Spying in the time of social networking

At the behest of a Chinese intelligence operative, two years ago, Singaporean Dickson Yeo conjured up a consultancy firm and posted a fake job listing on professional networking site LinkedIn.

The response floored him.

He got over 400 resumes, most of them from US military and government employees with security clearances. He sent on those he found interesting to a Chinese operative.

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Yeo tried to get a job in S'pore agencies dealing with classified issues: Ex-diplomat

Dickson Yeo's case may have recast the spotlight on academia as a cover for spies. PHOTO: DICKSON YEO/QUORA

Before Dickson Yeo went to the United States to spy for China - a charge he has since confessed to - he once tried to get a job in Singapore that would give him access to sensitive information.

Former senior diplomat and trade negotiator Barry Desker said Yeo had "tried unsuccessfully to secure employment in Singapore government agencies dealing with classified issues". He was not able to elaborate for security reasons.

"We should not discount the possibility that he was acting at the behest of his handlers. Fortunately, Dickson was not selected," added Mr Desker, a distinguished fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

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Singaporean jailed for spying in 1980 gave in to sex blackmail

Alan Wee Kheng Soon, a cypher officer at the Singapore Embassy in Moscow in 1980, passed secret information to a Soviet operative.

Spying cases involving Singaporeans are rare, but Dickson Yeo's is not the first to have been uncovered. In 1980, a cypher officer working at the Singapore Embassy in Moscow was jailed for 10 years after he was caught passing secret information to a Soviet intelligence operative.

Alan Wee Kheng Soon, then 30, was ensnared by a female agent, or "swallow", who seduced and blackmailed him into handing over information on how to code and decode messages being sent between Singapore and its embassy in Moscow.

The woman, who told Wee that her name was Luba Lubov Maluba, telephoned him at the Moscow apartment where he was staying with his wife and their two-year-old daughter.

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S'porean admits to being spy: Making of a Chinese agent

Dickson Yeo spent almost five years working at the behest of Chinese intelligence operatives to obtain valuable information from the United States.

He was recruited when, as a PhD student in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, he went on a trip to Beijing to give a presentation on South-east Asia politics, court documents showed.

After the presentation, he was approached and recruited by individuals who said they represented China-based think-tanks and offered him money in exchange for political reports and information.

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