Police, prisons deny allegations by American Mikhy Farrera Brochez at centre of HIV data leak

Mikhy Farrera Brochez claimed that he was abused while in police custody; that he was sexually assaulted while in prison and contracted HIV only then; that he was denied HIV medication while in jail; and that the HIV Registry was leaked by another pe
Mikhy Farrera Brochez claimed that he was abused while in police custody; that he was sexually assaulted while in prison and contracted HIV only then; that he was denied HIV medication while in jail; and that the HIV Registry was leaked by another person.ST FILE PHOTO

The Government has denied allegations made by Mikhy Farrera Brochez, the American at the centre of the HIV Registry data leak.

In several Facebook posts yesterday morning, Brochez claimed, among other things, that he was abused while in police custody; that he was sexually assaulted while in prison and contracted HIV only then; that he was denied HIV medication while in jail; and that the registry was leaked by another person.

His posts came after Health Minister Gan Kim Yong gave a ministerial statement in Parliament on Tuesday explaining how the registry had fallen into Brochez's hands, the events leading up to Brochez leaking the information online, and the steps the authorities have since taken to manage the leak.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed the data breach on Jan 28, six days after discovering that Brochez had leaked online the details of 14,200 people diagnosed with HIV here since 1985. Brochez had been deported last year after serving a jail term for other offences and is in the United States.

An MOH statement yesterday said Brochez "continues to make allegations which are either false or unsubstantiated". It said the matter had been thoroughly investigated by both the ministry and the police. "Brochez was convicted in court of fraud and various drug offences. Should new evidence emerge, we will investigate accordingly."

MOH added that it had previously indicated Brochez may be in possession of further information that he could reveal in the future. "He has now threatened to do so, and MOH will work with the police to take appropriate actions," it said, referring to Brochez's Facebook posts.

In a joint statement, the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Prison Service responded to some of Brochez's other allegations.

 
 
 
 

On the claim that the HIV Registry was leaked by one Zachary Levine, the statement said the police investigated Mr Levine in 2016 following similar allegations by Brochez.

It read: "Police investigation, which included an interview and examination of Levine's electronic devices seized from his residence, did not reveal any evidence to suggest that (he) was in possession of any MOH-related files, or had shared any HIV Registry data."

It added that before 2016, Brochez claimed in correspondence with MOH that his partner Ler Teck Siang and Mr Levine had shared screenshots of Brochez's own record in the HIV Registry, "but Brochez was never able to produce verifiable evidence to support this claim".

Ler, 37, a Singaporean doctor who was Brochez's live-in partner, is facing a charge under the Official Secrets Act for failing to properly handle information from the HIV Registry that he had access to as head of the National Public Health Unit up to May 2013.

Brochez also claimed he had been abused in police custody and that he had been sexually assaulted in prison and contracted HIV there.

The statement said these claims had been investigated and found to be untrue by the police's Internal Affairs Office and the Criminal Investigation Department. It added that Brochez had "committed a litany of institutional offences, including assaulting a fellow inmate" in prison.

The authorities said that when Brochez was admitted into prison in June 2016, he declared he had been HIV positive since 2008.

They said it was untrue he was denied HIV medication to manage his condition while in jail, adding that it is "a matter of record" that Brochez had contracted HIV years before he went to jail here in 2016.

"He, however, refused to submit himself for the necessary blood tests for the purposes of ascertaining his medical condition and of treatment," the statement said.

 
 

Given his refusal, the prison eventually checked with MOH and subsequently provided him with the necessary medication.

The statement said the Attorney-General's Chambers did not interfere with his medical treatment and had no authority to do so. "Brochez had been tried and found guilty by the Singapore courts. He was accorded due legal process," it said. "He has now made baseless allegations about the investigations as well as against the police and prisons. His actions have shown him to be a pathological liar. Nevertheless, we welcome him to come back to Singapore to assist with police investigations."

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist who treated Brochez in prison, also denied allegations he had given the American a list of HIV-positive prisoners or told him that he did not have HIV.

Dr Leong said he never had such a list and it would have been impossible to give Brochez any kind of written material, given the tight security. "I strongly object to what Mikhy has alleged. Both the prison service and myself discharged our duties fully and with no bias or stigma," Dr Leong said. "Medical confidentiality and patient care were always at the top of our minds. These accusations go against the very fabric of our values."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'Police, prisons deny allegations by American at centre of HIV data leak'. Print Edition | Subscribe