The United States political landscape was recently rocked by the uncovering of an alleged Singaporean spy for China who had been tapping high-security clearance holders through LinkedIn to send reports to the Chinese government.
Known as Jun Wei Yeo or Dickson Yeo, the Singaporean PhD holder went on court record to say he engaged in espionage for China.
Who is Dickson Yeo?
According to BBC, 39-year-old Dickson Yeo was a singaporean PhD student who was studying the rise of China on the world stage when he was contacted by a Chinese “think-tank” to present in Beijing on 2015.
Yeo studied at Lee Kuan Yew’s School of Public Policy, and his peers from the school had mixed reactions to the case in the US. One of them allegedly said that he was very active and an intelligent person in class.
Another said that his family was not financially independent when he was a child and he talked about social inequality often. But a staff at the institution also said that Yeo was a very proud man who felt he was very important.
Yeo’s PhD advisor Huang Jing was expelled from Singapore three years ago for being a spy as well, but documents did not mention for which country. The advisor worked in the US after being expelled then went on to Beijing.
US court documents said that Yeo was then asked to provide political reports and information for various clients which turned out to be alleged Chinese intelligence agents. While they did not reveal themselves to him immediately as such, the same US documents said that Yeo had figured this out eventually. He decided to remain in their employ.
Later, they said that they wanted him to provide rumors and insider knowledge specifically about South East Asia. The order turned into a request for US-based intelligence instead at a later date.
How did Dickson Yeo provide China with information?
According to various online reports, the Singaporean used LinkedIn to find professionals who were looking for employment opportunities and needed cash. Dickson said he put up a fake consulting company as a cover to lure the American contacts in.
Reports also said that Dickson had several meetings over the course of 2015-2019 with Chinese agents in China, where at one point he was asked to provide intelligence on the US Department of Commerce, artificial intelligence, and the China-US trade war.
The targets Yeo found on LinkedIn were contacted to write reports for his fake consultancy firm, whose name was the same as a well-known company. The reports were then to be sent to his Chinese contacts.
Yeo was told to ask his targets to write reports if they were having financial woes or if they were dissatisfied with work.
Yeo’s candidature for his doctorate has been cancelled and the school has mentioned that no other member of their institution has been known to be involved.
According to Yeo, the last instruction from his alleged Chinese handlers was that he turn an army officer into a regular information source. He was arrested before he could do so.
Header image from Dickson Yeo LinkedIn account