Civil servant arrested under Official Secrets Act over leak of COVID-19 case numbers

Civil servant arrested under Official Secrets Act over leak of COVID-19 case numbers

A police officer arresting a suspect in Singapore
File photo of a police officer arresting a suspect. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: A civil servant has been arrested for allegedly leaking COVID-19 case figures before they were officially released, according to a police news release on Thursday (Apr 23).

The 35-year-old Singaporean woman was arrested for wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act and unauthorised access to computer materials under the Computer Misuse Act.

READ:  COVID-19 infections in Singapore top 11,000, with 1,037 new cases

She is also accused of accessing a Government COVID-19 database without authorisation to retrieve confidential records of a person who had tested positive for COVID-19, and giving the information to a friend, said the police.

On Apr 16 at about 7.40pm, the police received a report from a member of the public that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for that day had been published on an Instagram story post, even though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had not officially released the figures yet.

The ministry confirmed 728 new cases of COVID-19 later that day in its official update at about 11.10pm. 

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman, who is an authorised recipient of classified information on COVID-19, had shared the figures with members of a private WeChat group, said the police.

"Members in the WeChat group, who were not authorised to receive the classified information, further disseminated the information before MOH officially released the information," they said.

Further investigations found that the woman had previously shared daily COVID-19 case figures with the group before the figures were officially released on several other occasions.

If convicted of wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act, the woman could be fined up to S$2,000 and jailed for up to two years.

Unauthorised recipients should not further circulate the confidential information received, as they may be similarly liable under the Official Secrets Act, warned the police.

If the woman is convicted of unauthorised access to computer materials under the Computer Misuse Act, she could be fined up to S$5,000 and jailed for up to two years.

The incident comes after another public servant and her husband were arrested earlier this month for allegedly circulating a draft of a joint media statement announcing that schools were moving into full home-based learning.

As of Thursday, Singapore has confirmed 11,178 cases of COVID-19. Twelve people have died from complications related to the disease in the country.

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Source: CNA/nc

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