World News

U.S. citizen who leaked Singapore HIV-cases may have more 'files'

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A U.S. citizen who leaked the names of more than 14,000 HIV-positive individuals in Singapore may be in possession of more “files” from the database, the city-state’s health minister said on Tuesday.

The news follows outrage last month after Singapore disclosed the leak by Mikhy Farrera Brochez, who was deported last year after being convicted on numerous drug-related and fraud offences, including lying about his own HIV status.

Brochez 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 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011.

“Quite possibly he still has more files in his possession,” Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told parliament, adding that police were working with their U.S. counterparts, and that agencies were monitoring the internet for further leaks.

Gan did not specify what information these files may contain or on what basis the government believed Brochez may have more.

The health ministry had become aware Brochez was in possession of confidential information that appeared to be from the country’s HIV Registry since May 2016, it previously said.

On Tuesday, Gan said he rejected “any allegation that MOH (Ministry of Health) sought to cover up the incident”.

The leak, which comes after last year’s news of a major cyber attack on Singapore’s national health database, could further dent the highly wired state’s push to place 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 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.

Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Nick Macfie