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Singapore Investigates Death of American Researcher

Singapore opens an official inquest Monday into the death of an American engineer whose family suspects he was murdered over a project involving the illegal transfer of sensitive technology to China.

Authorities are seeking to establish whether scientist Shane Todd committed suicide in June 2012 as police contend, or whether he was the victim of foul play.

An autopsy concluded Todd died by hanging, after his body was found suspended from a door in his Singapore apartment, two days after he quit his job with the government-controlled Institute of Microelectronics.

Todd's parents claim he was working at the institute on the development of gallium nitride, or GaN -- a semi-conductor material that can be used in military radar and satellite communications.

Singapore authorities and Huawei deny the allegations of GaN research.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times newspaper quoted Todd's mother as saying her son felt he was being asked to compromise American security at the research company with a firm identified as the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. The Chinese firm has been blocked from some projects in Australia and deemed a security risk by the U.S. Congress, which contends Huawei's equipment could be used for spying.

Both parents say they found proof of their son's work on a hard drive recovered from the apartment, linking their son's project to Huawei.

Colleagues at IME told Reuters that Todd had worked on a routine project testing semi-conductors for Huawei. Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam confirmed the research but told the news agency in March that the GaN project never materialized.

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