School closures: Public servant, hubby nabbed over leak of statement

A couple have been arrested for allegedly leaking a draft media statement to the public on the Covid-19 school closures before it was officially released.

The 37-year-old woman, who is a public servant, and her 38-year-old husband were arrested for the offence of wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act, the police said in a statement yesterday.

Police said they received a report at around 5.45pm last Friday that a draft joint media statement on the school closures as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak had been leaked.

The statement was by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education to announce details of the implementation of full home-based learning by schools and institutes of higher learning, as well as the closure of pre-schools and student care centres.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman, who is an authorised recipient of the draft media statement, had allegedly taken a screenshot of the release on her computer and shared the image with her husband via WhatsApp at about 9am that day.

Her husband, who is not an authorised recipient of the media statement, allegedly shared the image with his friends subsequently.

The image had been circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms hours before the media statement was officially released at 4.30pm to the press.

Police investigations are ongoing.

The police said the Government takes a serious view of any wrongful communication of confidential information, and will deal firmly with anyone who does so.

The offence of wrongful communication of information carries with it a fine of up to $2,000 and imprisonment for up to two years.

The police further warned that unauthorised recipients should also not circulate the confidential information received, as they may be similarly liable under the Official Secrets Act.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2020, with the headline 'School closures: Public servant, hubby nabbed over leak of statement'. Print Edition | Subscribe