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 concerns over data privacy in the city-state.
Singapore deported Mikhy Farrera Brochez last year after convicting him on numerous drug-related and fraud offences, including lying about his own HIV status.
Singapore’s 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 strongly worded joint statement.
“His actions have shown him to be a pathological liar.”
It was unclear why the Facebook post was no longer available. Brochez did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment. Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.
Singapore’s health minister, Gan Kim Yong told parliament on Tuesday that Brochez might still possess “more files”, without elaborating.
The HIV data leak, which came after a major cyber attack 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 AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, many countries introduced restrictions on entry against HIV-infected travelers and foreign workers. Singapore remains among a small number of developed countries that maintain some restrictions on long-term visit passes and work visas.
Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Gareth Jones