SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore police said on Wednesday a U.S. citizen accused of leaking the names of more than 14,000 HIV-positive people was “a pathological liar”, in a case that has raised concern over data privacy in the city-state.
Singapore deported Mikhy Farrera Brochez last year after convicting him of numerous drug-related and fraud offences, including lying about his own HIV status.
The health ministry said on Jan. 28 that Brochez had disclosed online the personal information, including names, ID numbers, phone numbers and addresses, of 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013 and of 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the ministry’s accusations, Brochez said in a now-deleted Facebook post that he was not the one who leaked the data.
Brochez also said he had only contracted the HIV virus while in a Singapore prison and that he had been refused HIV medication there.
“Brochez had been tried and found guilty by the Singapore Courts. He was accorded due legal process. He has now made baseless allegations about the investigations as well as against Police and Prisons,” the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Prisons Service said in a joint statement.
“His actions have shown him to be a pathological liar.”
A Facebook spokesman said the platform maintained a set of standards that determined whether content stayed or was removed, when asked whether Brochez’s post was removed at the request of Singapore authorities.
“Under these policies, we remove content or accounts that share medical information on others, and any content that poses a credible threat of harm to others,” the spokesman said.
Brochez did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong told parliament on Tuesday that Brochez might possess “more files”, without elaborating.
The HIV data leak, which came after a major cyberattack last year on Singapore’s national health database, risks further denting the highly wired city state’s efforts to promote itself as a data and health-care hub.
In response to the spread of AIDS in the 1980s, many countries introduced restrictions on entry against HIV-infected travellers and foreign workers. Singapore remains among a small number of developed countries that maintain some restrictions on long-term visit passes and work visas for people infected with HIV.
Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jack Kim