US court orders Mikhy Brochez to 'immediately' return HIV data to Singapore authorities

US court orders Mikhy Brochez to 'immediately' return HIV data to Singapore authorities

Mikhy Farrera Brochez 2
Mikhy Farrera Brochez, who is accused of leaking the personal data of 14,200 HIV-positive people. (Photo: Channel NewsAsia/Mikhy Brochez)

SINGAPORE: American Mikhy Farrera Brochez was ordered by a US court on Monday (Mar 4) to "immediately" surrender to Singapore's authorities the data obtained from the HIV registry and all other confidential information.

The 34-year-old has been given a Mar 29 deadline to "permanently delete" from any computer, device, storage media or website the information obtained from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Prisons Service, court documents said.

This follows MOH's application on Feb 14 for a preliminary injunction and a restraining order to stop Brochez from leaking more data. A temporary restraining order was granted on Feb 19.

In granting the preliminary injunction on Monday, the court also directed Brochez to remove all online posts and references relating to the data and prove that he has done so by Mar 29. 

Brochez has been accused of leaking the data of 14,200 people whose personal details are stored in the confidential registry.

It is alleged that from June 2018 through to at least January 2019, Brochez, while living in Kentucky, had emailed links from the medical database to several media outlets, including Alvinology, Mothership, the Straits Times and CNN.

In an interview with news outlet VICE, he also asked if it would “harm their story” if he released the names.

On Feb 16, the 34-year-old sent a list containing the NRIC numbers of 13 HIV-positive people to Singapore authorities and media outlets.

He previously told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) he would leak more names and information if the Singapore Government did not release his husband, Singaporean doctor Ler Teck Siang.

District Judge Danny Reeves also ordered anyone who received the data from Brochez to permanently destroy the information.

The judge said: “Any agent, representative, companion, friend or acquaintance of the defendant [Brochez] in possession of the confidential, sensitive, or private information obtained by the defendant from the Singapore Government … shall delete and remove any and all confidential information in his/her/its possession or power, including copies saved or uploaded on any online website, platform, or other database.”

READ: Mikhy Brochez admits threatening Singapore Government over HIV data leak in FBI affidavit

THOSE IDENTIFIED COULD HAVE BEEN HARMED

MOH had, in its application, told the court those identified by Brochez could “be harmed” if their data was leaked.

In the grounds to his decision, Judge Reeves wrote: “The MOH asserted that the individuals on the HIV registry would face irreparable injury because dissemination of the information could lead to their losing jobs and insurance coverage.

“Likewise, the MOH contends that the stigmatisation associated with HIV in Singapore may lead to other harms as a result of being identified as being infected with HIV.”

Mikhy Farrera Brochez in court 1
Mikhy Farrera Brochez at the Clark County District Court in Winchester, Kentucky on Feb 18, 2019. (Photo: Chris Kenning) 

The court said it is “likely” Brochez had broken US law, not just Singapore law, when he leaked the information.

“Brochez has shown that he is willing and capable of giving unreasonable publicity to another’s private life because he has disclosed the prisons list to news outlets,” the judge wrote.

“The information on the prisons list involves confidential information about prisoners’ private lives.

“And simply put, if this information is not recovered but further disseminated it will continue to give unreasonable publicity to the individuals’ private affairs.”  

The court also heard it would be likely Brochez would “continue in his efforts to disseminate this information if a preliminary injunction is not entered”, and had repeatedly threatened to do so.

READ: ‘Practical limits’ to verifying certificates: Low Yen Ling explains how polytechnics hired Mikhy Brochez

DETAINED

Brochez, who is currently held at the Fayette County Detention Centre, is facing charges for the unlawful transfer of stolen identification documents and possession with intent to distribute them.

The FBI has also filed two additional charges of transmitting threats for purposes of extortion and illegally transferring the identification of another person in connection with an unlawful activity.

Those charges carry a possible combined sentence of seven years in prison, and prosecutors could seek more.

A grand jury is set to be called to consider whether to indict him on federal charges, and it could take several weeks or longer before a decision is made.

Source: CNA/mi(mn)

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