American engineer's death suicide or cyber-espionage?

Shane Todd, as seen in this undated photo.

(CBS News) The death of an American computer engineer, Shane Todd, in Singapore has created quite a stir. His parents contend he was murdered, but authorities say it was suicide. The mystery seems to have links to the dark world of cyber-spying and could possibly involve China.

Rick and Mary Todd traveled from Montana to Singapore to prove that their son was actually the victim of a web of international cyber-espionage.

"We really appreciate the process that is going on; it's a slow process so we really appreciate the way Singapore conducts its court system," said Rick Todd.

The Todds are attending an 11-day inquiry into their son's death. Shane Todd had been an engineer for a Singapore government research agency called the Institute of Microelectronics (IME). Then two days after quitting last June, he was found dead, hanging in his apartment bathroom. Police and the coroner ruled it a suicide.

"I believe 100 percent there is a cover-up going on," said Mary Todd.

In an interview with CBS News in February, the Todds claimed their son had become worried about his safety.

"He started calling us and saying, 'Mom if you don't hear from me every week email me right away,'" said Mary Todd. "'If I don't call you, call the U.S. Embassy. My life is being threatened,' and that's when he said that he felt he was being asked to compromise U.S. security."

Calif. engineer's death in Singapore linked to cyber espionage?

Next week, attorneys for the Todds are expected to submit evidence they say points to foul play, including data on a hard drive found inside their son's apartment, which contained sensitive technology on gan, a semiconductor with civilian and military uses.

One of the companies in discussions with IME about the technology was the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee concluded Huawei represented a threat to the U.S. because it could be pressured by the Chinese government to help spy or steal technology.


CBS News senior correspondent John Miller told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that there are numerous elements of the case that seem a little "sinister" but that it might not lead to anything.

(Watch John Miller's full discussion with the "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-hosts at left)

He reported that there were no fingerprints taken from the room where Shane Todd was found dead and that they moved the body before they examined the scene. Miller said that while this may seem shifty, when they found the body hanging, their first instinct would have been to cut him down and not necessarily treat the area as a crime scene.

"I think the contention by the family is that all of this is beneath the surface and they're going to present everything beneath the surface to the court this week to see if they can get the ruling of suicide changed," he said.

IME and Huawei deny any wrongdoing. The final ruling on the Shane Todd's death will either lead to the opening of a criminal investigation or will close the case for good.

For Seth Doane's full report, watch the video in the player above.