6 November 2012
(c) 2012 Kyodo News
HONG KONG, Nov. 6 -- British businessman Neil Heywood had helped London spy on Bo Xilai, former Communist Party chief in western China's Chongqing City, and his family before he was murdered in China, the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday.
The report, posted on the newspaper's website, said Heywood "had been knowingly providing information about the Bo family to Britain's Secret Intelligence Service" for more than a year.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, pleaded guilty in August to killing Heywood by poisoning him in a hotel room for fear the family's longtime business associate might threaten her son's personal security over a soured economic relationship.
Heywood was found dead Nov. 15 last year.
The exposure of Heywood's death, after the defection of then police chief Wang Lijun to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, led to the fall of Bo and imprisonment of Gu and other officials involved.
An individual Heywood met in 2009 later acknowledged to him being a British intelligence officer and Heywood continued to meet with the individual regularly in China to provide information on Bo's affairs, the Journal said, based on interviews with current and former British officials and Heywood's friends.
Heywood was neither a spy nor an employee of the British government, but "a willful and knowing informant," the report said.
The report added Heywood had not seen Bo for more than a year when he died and had been making plans to leave China, but he appeared to be trying to persuade the Bo family to pay him money he felt he was owed.
Gu, who admitted to having "poured poison into Heywood's mouth," has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.
The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said Heywood died not of poison but asphyxiation.
Quoting sources, the Hong Kong-based human rights group said investigators found the poison Gu had administered was not enough to kill Heywood and that two individuals entered the hotel room after Gu left.
The sources said Heywood was under surveillance of Chongqing's national security bureau for a long time.
Heywood's body was cremated three days after it was discovered, without an autopsy, and the original cause of death announced was "excessive alcohol consumption."
Bo, tipped as a strong contender to become a member of the powerful Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Political Bureau in the leadership transition scheduled to start Thursday, has since been stripped of his political titles, expelled from the party and is awaiting trial for alleged participation in a string of wrongdoing, including disciplinary breaches, abuse of power, corruption and having or maintaining "abnormal" sexual relationships with numerous women.