Couple arrested for allegedly leaking press release on Covid-19 school closures

SINGAPORE - 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 and 38-year-old man were arrested for the offence of wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act, police said in a statement on Sunday (April 5).

Police said they received a report at around 5.45pm on Friday (April 3) that a draft joint media statement on the school closures as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak had been leaked to the public.

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 a public servant and an authorised recipient of the 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, subsequently shared the image with his friends.

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 that the Government takes a serious view of any wrongful communication of confidential information, and will deal firmly 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 further circulate the confidential information received, as they may be similarly liable under the Official Secrets Act.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.