Crime

Ky. man who leaked Singapore records identifying people with HIV is convicted

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A Winchester man who leaked the records of thousands of people whose names were on an HIV registry in Singapore was convicted in federal court in Lexington Tuesday.

According to testimony during his two-day trial in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, 34, got access to a database that belonged to the Ministry of Health in Singapore and sent it to his mother in Kentucky, the Department of Justice said.

The database “listed the private identifying and medical information of thousands of people in Singapore living with HIV, including more than 50 U.S. citizens,” according to the Justice Department.

The Justice Department said that Farrera-Brochez retrieved the information when he came back to Kentucky last year and sent an email Jan. 22 “to several officials of the Government of Singapore that included three links to places on the internet where he had put copies of the database. He made several demands in that email.

“On February 18, 2019, he sent a second email to officials of the Government of Singapore threatening to publish the database if his demands were not met.”

A jury convicted Farrera-Brochez of two counts sending threatening communications to the government of Singapore and its ministry of health and one count of possessing and transferring the identities of other people in interstate and foreign commerce with the intent to commit or in connection with a crime.

Farrera-Brochez is to be sentenced Sept. 27. He could face up to two years in prison on each of the two counts of sending threatening communications and up to five years for possessing and transferring the identity information.

The Singapore Ministry of Health filed a lawsuit against Farrera-Brochez in U.S. District Court in Lexington on Feb. 14, saying that the records he was threatening to release included the names, addresses and ID numbers of 5,400 people from Singapore who had been diagnosed with HIV through January 2013 and 8,800 foreigners who had been diagnosed through December 2011.

According to court documents, he had gotten the HIV database from his partner, a Singapore doctor named Ler Teck Siang, who was head of the Ministry of Health’s National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013.

Siang was charged for not keeping possession of the records, and that case was still pending in Singapore, according to the lawsuit filed by the Singapore health ministry.

The ministry said that Farrera-Brochez served a 28-month prison sentence in Singapore for fraud and drug-related offenses, including “lying about his HIV status to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower in order to obtain and maintain his employment pass, furnishing false information to a police officer during a criminal investigation, and using a forged degree certificate in a job application.”

Siang was convicted in September of abetting Farrera-Brochez, as well as “providing false information to the police” and the health ministry.

The complaint says Farrera-Brochez moved to Singapore in January 2008. He was deported in April 2018.

The government of Singapore said in the lawsuit that it had taken steps to make sure that the information in its registry was kept confidential and said that if the data was released, it “will cause irreparable damage to the individuals identified.”

As evidence of Farrera-Brochez’ intention of releasing the data, the government pointed to a Vice News article about him in which he had asked a reporter “Will it hurt your story if I make some of the data public?”

In an affidavit filed in his criminal case in federal court, FBI agent Chelsea Holliday wrote that Farrera-Brochez had emailed links to the database to “several news outlets” between June 2018 and January 2019.

And she said he had posted on his Facebook account: “I will continue releasing this evidence until the Lee regime stops the HIV Registry and releases my husband Dr. Ler Teck Siang from the unlawful imprisonment based on false charges.”

Holliday wrote that Farrera-Brochez had contacted her several times beginning in November, before she was aware that he had the database, and that he believed that the government of Singapore was trying to kidnap him.

She said the Kentucky State Police detained him and transferred him to the FBI’s custody after she learned Feb. 21 that he might be in Jackson.

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