US court extends restraining order against Brochez
A US court has extended a temporary restraining order sought by Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) against Mikhy Farrera Brochez, the American at the centre of an HIV database leak in Singapore.
The initial order was granted on Feb 19, two days before he was arrested, and has been extended by 14 days from Feb 22 to March 8.
Brochez is being detained at the request of the US government, which charged him last week with the unlawful possession of stolen identification documents.
Under the temporary restraining order, he may not post, refer to, discuss, upload or share any confidential, sensitive or private information that he got from the Singapore Government and is holding on to.
Any agent, representative, companion, friend or acquaintance of Brochez who possesses the information he obtained is also banned from disseminating it.
US District Judge Danny C. Reeves said any disclosure of information from the HIV Registry would cause immediate and irreparable injury to the individuals identified through the registry. His written grounds for granting the extension were set out in court papers filed on Monday and seen by The Straits Times.
There was also good cause for the extension because the Singapore Government "had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its claims which (Brochez) had not yet answered", said the judge.
There would be little to no harm to Brochez, 34, if he were temporarily restrained from spreading the information. Doing so would, in fact, be in the public interest, the judge added.
The judge also wrote in earlier court documents that America's First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech, does not protect the unlawful disclosures of highly confidential patient information.
"Instead, confidential medical records, like the HIV Registry, must be given protection from improper disclosure because the dissemination of this information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," he added.
In the week before his arrest, Brochez had e-mailed the details of 13 HIV-positive individuals scheduled for a health check-up at Changi Prison Complex in March last year to government authorities and multiple media agencies.
Brochez lived in Singapore from 2008 and was jailed in 2017 for fraud and drug-related offences and lying to the Manpower Ministry about his HIV status to get an employment pass. He was released from prison last April and deported.