SINGAPORE — A public servant and her husband were charged on Wednesday (21 April) over the leak of a government statement on the implementation of home-based learning before its official release.
Noorain Jubli, 38, and her husband Khairul Annuar Zakaria, 39, were each handed charges of wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) over the alleged leaking of the announcement to implement home-based learning last year.
Noorain, who worked as the personal assistant to the Singapore Food Agency's director-general at the time of the offences, was handed two counts of the charge while Khairul slapped with one count.
As a personal assistant, Noorain is said to have had access to the director-general's e-mail inbox, which held e-mails containing confidential information on the management of COVID-19. She allegedly forwarded this information to Khairul on 3 April via the WhatsApp messaging application.
Khairul was also charged for soliciting the wrongful communication of information under the OSA.
Noorain had allegedly forwarded an image of a joint media statement by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social and Family Development on the school closures as a result of COVID-19, before the information was officially released to the public.
She had also taken eight images which showed a list of essential services that would continue operating during the circuit breaker period and sent them to Khairul via WhatsApp at his request.
Khairul, who was not authorised to receive the confidential information, purportedly shared the image the MOE-MSF statement to a WhatsApp chat group consisting of 13 members.
The police received a report about the leak on 3 April last year, which concerned a draft joint media statement by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education. The statement concerned the 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.
Both parties indicated they would be pleading guilty to their charges. They will return to court on 11 June.
Another 16 individuals who had wrongfully received and further communicated the information downstream will be handed written warnings for wrongful communication of information under the OSA, according to the police.
In response to Yahoo News Singapore, the SFA said that Noorain was suspended since April last year.
"SFA takes a very serious view of any wrongful communication of information by our staff... SFA has since reviewed and tightened information security protocols and processes. Our officers were also reminded to abide by SFA’s Code of Conduct as well as the Official Secrets Act," a spokesperson added.
Two others previously charged under OSA
Last week, a female civil servant and another woman, both 36 and Singaporeans, were charged for allegedly leaking the daily updates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore before their official release last year.
Zhao Zheng, the deputy lead of the Data Management Unit set up by the Ministry of Health (MOH), and Tang Lin were charged under the OSA for wrongful communication. Zhao was handed 24 charges, including those under the Computer Misuse Act, while Tang was given 10 charges.
A person who is convicted of wrongful communication of information under the OSA may face up to two years' jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
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