Singapore—The figure at the center of the HIV patient data leak revealed to the public at the beginning of the year received a two-year jail sentence in the United States for extortion on September 27, Friday.
In June, Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, age 34, was found guilty of two counts of extortion due to emails he had sent earlier in the first two months of this year. He was likewise found guilty of possessing Singapore’s official HIV database both knowingly and unlawfully.
The database contained the personal details of more than 14,000 individuals.
Mr Brochez, a US citizen, had been ordered to surrender to the US government his accounts on Google as well as the electronic gadgets he used in illegally retrieving the database. The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Singapore, however, is endeavouring to determine whether or not Mr Brochez has copies of the data in other locations.
It was noted by the Eastern District of Kentucky’s prosecutorial office after Mr Brochez’ sentencing that Mr Brochez had legally obtained access to the MOH’s database containing the data of people living in Singapore who had been diagnosed with HIV, among whom are over 50 Americans.
Mr Brochez, who had sent the database to his mother some years back, retrieved the information after he was released from jail in Singapore and went back to the US last year. He had been imprisoned on drug and fraud charges.
In March, US courts ordered Mr Brochez to turn over the confidential data and all other pertinent information to Singaporean authorities, as well as take down all online posts that had to do with the leaked data.
Mr Brochez reportedly sent the links to the medical database containing the information of HIV-positive individuals in Singapore to a number of media outlets from June 2018 through January 2019.
He emailed Singaporean government officials on January 22 and February 18, saying he would make the information concerning HIV patients in Singapore public if his demands were not met. And on February 16, the American also sent to media outlets and Singaporean authorities a list which contained the NRIC numbers of 13 HIV-positive people, threatening to release more information and names of HIV-positive individuals should his husband not be released from jail.
Mr Brochez is required to submit to supervised release for a period of three years after his prison sentence ends and has been given strict conditions to prevent the further leak of the HIV database, including counseling, mental health evaluation, and submission of all electronic communications to his probation officer. He will also not be allowed to email or use the Internet without approval, and disclose the password to his email accounts to his probation officer.
US Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr said,
“The defendant unlawfully obtained the private, personal identifying information of more than 14,000 people, including American citizens, and used this information in an attempt to extort the government of a foreign nation.
Without the hard work of law enforcement personnel, the defendant could have caused significant additional harm, by publishing this personal and private information.”
Still ongoing is another civil lawsuit filed by the MOH compelling Brochez to return the HIV registry data he stole./ TISG