Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, the American who is involved in the HIV data leak in Singapore is officially charged by a grand jury of criminal charges relating to the breach.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) named Brochez as the one responsible for leaking the data of thousands of HIV positive Singaporeans and residents in his Facebook profile after he was deported out of the country.
The grand jury in Kentucky recommended on Thursday that three criminal charges should be charged against Mikhy after they have reviewed the evidence presented by the prosecution and determined that there is enough evidence to press criminal charges.
Farrera-Brochez was deported last year from Singapore after serving prison sentences for numerous drug-related and fraud offenses, including lying about his own HIV status.
According to the Health Ministry of Singapore, Farrera-Brochez, angered by his deportation had disclosed the personal information from names and identity numbers to addresses, of 5,400 citizens diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and of 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011, on his Facebook account.
“The criminal complaint alleges that Farrera-Brochez illegally possessed and intended to distribute data containing sensitive medical and other identifying information,” the U.S. Attorney’s office of the eastern district of Kentucky said on Friday.
“While living in the eastern district of Kentucky, Farrera-Brochez sent links to the data from his e-mail account to several news outlets. He also sent e-mails to several government officials in Singapore containing links,” it said in a statement on its website.
The first charge, intent to extort, tackles about an email he sent to Singaporean government officials and the Ministry of Health on January 22. He posed a threat in the email to injure the reputation of Singaporean officials and MOH.
According to the affidavit submitted by FBI special agent Chelsea Holliday, Brochez sent an email asking the Singaporean government to investigate the crimes that were allegedly committed against him during his stay in Singapore. The email contained links of digital documents in Google Drive that leads to the HIV registry.
The second charge, another intent to extort, is about an email he sent from Kentucky to Singapore on February 18. The email asks the Singapore government to end the HIV registry and to release his husband, Dr. Ler Tek Siang, or he will continue to publish the confidential information that he has. He said that his husband was ‘unlawfully imprisoned based on false charges.’Ler was convicted of helping him give false information to the authorities and now on the process of appealing the conviction.
The third charge is related to the first email where he is charged with unlawfully transferring or possessing identification documents. He is scheduled for arraignment on March 19 where he would plead either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty.’
If convicted, Brochez could face two years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each charge of intent to extort and another $250,000 for the third charge plus up to five years in prison.
Last week, Brochez faced the court for the preliminary injunction of a civil lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Health. The judge ordered him to permanently delete all his copy of the confidential information and his online posts pertaining to the sensitive data in social media across all platforms.
He has until March 19 to delete all his copy of the HIV registry and all his acquaintances and friends he sent the data to are also ordered to remove their copies as well.
US District Judge Danny Reeves said that Brochez was likely to continue in his efforts to spread the leaked information if the preliminary injunction was not granted.
“The defendant has indicated in a Facebook post that he feels ‘wronged’ by the Government of Singapore and has repeatedly threatened to disseminate the information if his husband is not released from custody,” said the judge in the written grounds for his decision, seen by The Straits Times.
The judge also noted that the MOH was likely to succeed in showing that Brochez committed an invasion of privacy under Kentucky law.
“Brochez has shown that he is willing and capable of giving unreasonable publicity to another’s private life,” said the judge, noting that Brochez had disclosed confidential information to news outlets.”
He is now in custody and is awaiting arraignment to the three new criminal charges against him. /apr