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Singapore extends consular aid to citizen who acted as illegal foreign agent in US

[SINGAPORE] Singapore is extending consular assistance to Dickson Yeo, a Singaporean who pleaded guilty on Friday to acting under the direction of Chinese intelligence officials to obtain sensitive information from Americans, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday.

"He's a Singapore citizen. Our duty is to provide consular assistance to him, according to his needs," said Dr Balakrishnan, who was speaking to reporters at Woodlands Train Checkpoint after a meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein at the mid-point of the Causeway to discuss arrangements for cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia.

He added that he has no further information to share on the Dickson Yeo case, beyond what has been published. He did not comment when asked about actions that Singapore is taking to detect and prevent such espionage agents from operating locally and abroad.

Yeo Jun Wei, also called Dickson Yeo, pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington DC to one count of acting within the United States as an illegal foreign agent.

Court documents said that he used his political consultancy in the United States as a front to collect information for Chinese intelligence, targeting American military and government employees with security clearances on professional networking social media sites.

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Yeo would pay them to write reports which he said were meant for clients in Asia, but which were in reality sent to the Chinese government without their knowledge.

Investigations into the case of Yeo have not revealed any direct threat to Singapore's security, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday. In response to media queries, a spokesman from the MHA added that the ministry was informed by the US authorities of the arrest of Yeo in November 2019.

"Singaporeans are expected to abide by the laws of the country which they visit or reside in," added MHA.

A spokesperson from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said in a press statement on Sunday that Yeo enrolled as a PhD student in the school’s public policy programme in 2015. In 2019, he had applied for and was granted, a leave of absence.

"In light of the information released by the US Department of Justice, Mr Yeo’s PhD candidature has been terminated with immediate effect and he is no longer a student at the school."

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