U.S. officials suspect that Pakistan allowed the Chinese military to see secret new U.S. technology -- the U.S. helicopter that crashed in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden -- despite explicit requests from the CIA not to, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
Two senior defense officials said Monday that it is not certain, but that they suspect Pakistan let the China see the aircraft. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence.
"The U.S. now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad," the Times quoted one of the officials saying. It was also disclosed that Pakistan, which maintains a close relationship with China, allowed the Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed aircraft as well as takes samples of its special "skin" that allowed the American raid to evade Pakistani radar.
No one from the Pakistani Army was available for comment, Reuters reported, but the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, Pakistan's top spy agency, denied the report.
The surviving tail section of the aircraft was returned to the United States after a trip by U.S. Senator John Kerry, D.-Mass., in May, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy told Reuters. Shortly after the raid, Pakistan, angered with the U.S. for not being informed of the mission, considering the nondisclosure a grievous violation of its sovereignty, hinted it might give China access to the helicopter as a form of revenge.
"We had explicitly asked the Pakistanis in the immediate aftermath of the raid not to let anyone have access to the damaged remains of the helicopter," the Times quoted the source saying.
It is standard American procedure to destroy sophisticated technology such as encrypted communications and navigation computers in such an incident as the helicopter crash.