August 16, 2011
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Pakistan probably let Chinese engineers examine the wreckage of a top-secret US stealth helicopter that crashed during the raid killing Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reported.
Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said late Sunday US intelligence agencies concluded that it was likely that Chinese engineers -- at the invitation of Pakistani spies -- took detailed photographs of the severed tail of the Black Hawk helicopter equipped with classified technology designed to elude radar.
The Financial Times also carried the report, which was denied by Pakistani and Chinese officials.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States are at their lowest ebb, strained by the covert American raid that killed bin Laden near Pakistan's main military academy and Pakistan's earlier detention of a CIA contractor.
President Barack Obama's administration recently suspended about one-third of its $2.7 billion annual defense aid to Pakistan, but assured Islamabad it was committed to a $7.5 billion civilian assistance package approved in 2009.
US Navy Seals reportedly tried to destroy the helicopter after it crashed at bin Laden?s compound on May 2, but the tail section of the aircraft remained largely intact.
A senior Pakistani security official denied the report and pointed out that the wreckage had been handed back to US officials shortly after the raid.
"It's just speculation. It's all false. The wreckage was handed back. There is no helicopter left (in Pakistan)," the official told AFP.
The US officials cautioned that they did not have definitive proof that the Chinese visited the town of Abbottabad where bin Laden was killed.
They also said Pakistani officials denied showing the advanced helicopter technology to any other foreign government.
The US case is based mostly on intercepted conversations, in which Pakistani officials discussed inviting the Chinese to the crash site, The Times noted.
One official told the newspaper that intelligence officials were "certain" that Chinese engineers had been able to photograph the helicopter and even walk away with samples of the wreckage.
Pakistani military spokesman major general Athar Abbas also rejected the report in a statement late Monday.
"The assertion made is not true and therefore we reject this report," Abbas said.
Abbas criticised foreign media for "launching a malicious campaign against Pakistan's security organisations" and urged them to verify and cross check information rather than relying on "unnamed officials".
Reaction from China was also skeptical. "We express deep doubts about this. Such a thing would never happen," a Chinese defense ministry spokesman, who did not give his name, told AFP on Monday.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu in May dismissed the notion that China had asked to see the wreckage of the US helicopter as "ridiculous".