An American man accused of leaking data of thousands of HIV-positive people in Singapore has been charged in the United States with possession and unlawful transfer of stolen documents, authorities said.
Singapore announced last month that confidential information of 14 200 people diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS had been dumped online, with most of those affected foreigners.
Authorities accused Mikhy Farrera Brochez, an HIV-positive American who was jailed in the city-state and deported in 2018, of leaking the data after obtaining it from his Singaporean doctor partner.
The data leak, which included people’s HIV status, names and addresses, has provoked an outcry in Singapore, especially among the LGBT community and NGOs involved in the fight against AIDS.
Brochez was charged Friday, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office for the eastern district of Kentucky.
“The criminal complaint alleges that Brochez illegally possessed and intended to distribute data containing sensitive medical and other identifying information,” it said.
“While living in the eastern district of Kentucky, Brochez sent links to the data from his e-mail account to several news outlets.
“He also sent e-mails to several government officials in Singapore containing links to the data.”
He will appear in court again on Wednesday. Speaking earlier in February to Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, Brochez maintained his innocence.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this month that Singapore would “spare no effort” to bring Brochez back and prosecute him, and denied the government had sought to cover up the leak.
Singapore and the US have an extradition treaty.
Brochez was jailed in Singapore in 2016 for lying about his HIV status, drug-related offences and fraud, and was deported after his sentence.
HIV is a sensitive issue in socially conservative Singapore, with critics saying there is still much stigma surrounding the virus.