‘Football Leaks’ whistleblower Pinto takes the stand

(Photo: AFP)

LISBON — The Portuguese whistleblower behind the “Football Leaks” revelations, Rui Pinto, is due to start testifying on Monday in the Lisbon court where he is on trial for computer hacking and attempted extortion. اضافة اعلان

Apart from a brief statement read at an earlier stage of the trial in September 2020, this is the first time the man who shook the world of soccer business will speak before the judges.

His interrogation, the last step before closing arguments, is likely to continue for several sessions.

Since agreeing to cooperate with authorities in other cases, the 33-year-old Portuguese, who spent more than a year in pre-trial detention following his arrest in Hungary in January 2019, has been both defendant and protected witness.

“Rui Pinto has changed radically and is cooperating in an effective and relevant way,” allowing authorities access to a mass of encrypted data containing unpublished documents in his possession in Budapest, Portugal’s national director of the Judicial Police, Luis Neves, told the court in May 2021.

On that occasion, the head of the criminal police even criticized the “cynicism and hypocrisy” of the Portuguese judicial system.

Pinto is being tried for 89 hacking offences, which he allegedly committed against the investment fund Doyen Sports, Sporting Lisbon, the Portuguese Football Federation, a law firm, and magistrates of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic.

He is also on trial for attempted extortion.

The prosecution argues that Pinto tried to blackmail Doyen, which is based in Malta and controlled by a sibling of Kazakh-Turkish oligarchs, by demanding between 500,000 and one million euros to stop him publishing compromising documents on the Internet.

He then leaked documents in 2015. They were published in Germany’s Spiegel and other European outlets and sparked criminal investigations in countries including Britain and France.

“I was outraged by what I discovered and I decided to make it public,” Pinto said. “I never did anything for money,” he argued at the opening of the trial.

Pinto was also behind the “Luanda Leaks”, published in January 2020 accusing Angolan businesswoman Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, of fraudulently accumulating a fortune estimated at almost 2 billion euros.

Placed in a witness protection program, Pinto allows himself to comment on current events on Twitter, especially on controversies involving soccer and money.

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