SINGAPORE: The personal assistant to the director-general of the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) was charged on Wednesday (Apr 21) under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) with leaking an unreleased statement about school closures during the COVID-19 “circuit breaker” last year.
The personal assistant, Noorain Jubli, 38, was charged with two counts of wrongful communication of information. Her husband Khairul Annuar Zakaria, 39, was also given two charges under the OSA for wrongful communication and soliciting information.
Noorain had access to the SFA director-general’s inbox, which had emails containing confidential information on the management of COVID-19 in Singapore, said the charge sheet.
The police said on Tuesday night that Noorain was a public servant and an authorised recipient of the information at the time of the offence. It was a draft media statement by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education in early April last year announcing details of full home-based learning for schools, as well as the closure of pre-school and student care centres.
Noorain is accused of taking a photo of her computer screen showing the statement and sending it to her husband via WhatsApp at about 9am on Apr 3, 2020.
Khairul allegedly forwarded the information to a WhatsApp chat group that had 13 members. He is also accused of asking his wife to take photos of a list of essential services that would continue operating during the circuit breaker period, and she allegedly sent him eight photos.
The court heard that the couple, who had no lawyers, intend to plead guilty, and a date was fixed for them to do so in June.
Sixteen other people who had received the information and forwarded the information will be given written advisories for the wrongful communication of information under OSA, the police said.
If convicted, Noorain and Khairul can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to S$2,000 per charge.
READ: Former deputy lead of MOH data unit charged under OSA for leaking Singapore’s COVID-19 numbers 22 times
This is the second such charging over a leak of official COVID-19-related information. Last week, Zhao Zheng, a former deputy lead of a Ministry of Health data unit, was charged with leaking daily COVID-19 numbers. Her co-accused Tang Lin was given 10 charges under the OSA.
In June 2020, a 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of leaking classified information on the resumption of activities as part of Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening.