'Football Leaks' trial ends and whistleblower faces April verdict

‘Football Leaks’ trial ends and whistleblower faces April verdict

The trial of the whistleblower of the ‘Football Leaks’ revelations, a 34-year-old Portuguese accused of computer hacking and attempted extortion, concluded on Monday in Lisbon and the court will issue its verdict on April 28.

“I am fully aware of having committed illegalities,” defendant Rui Pinto told the judges at the end of a trial that began more than two years ago.

Documents uncovered by “Football Leaks” from late 2015 have exposed dubious football business practices involving famous players and clubs, leading to tax adjustments and legal proceedings in several European countries.

Pinto was being tried for 89 crimes of piracy, which he allegedly committed against the investment fund Doyen Sports, Sporting Lisboa, the Portuguese Football Federation, a law firm and magistrates from the Attorney General’s Office.

He was also tried for attempted extortion.

The indictment argued that Pinto tried to blackmail Nelio Lucas, the boss of Doyen, based in Malta and controlled by a family of Kazakh-Turkish oligarchs, demanding between 500,000 and 1 million euros to stop publishing compromising documents on the Internet.

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

“There is no doubt that he is a whistleblower” and not “a computer criminal,” his lawyer Francisco Teixeira da Mota claimed on Monday, who stressed that his client “had never earned a penny” from his activity.

Pinto confessed to hacking and regretted his behavior towards Doyen Sports, leading his lawyer to say, “I wasn’t going to ask for an acquittal, it wouldn’t make sense. A suspended prison sentence would suffice.”

The prosecutor, who did not recognize his status as a complainant, requests a conviction without specifying whether he should receive a custodial sentence.

Pinto spent more than a year in pretrial detention following his arrest in Hungary in January 2019 before agreeing to cooperate with authorities in other cases, becoming a defendant and protected witness.

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

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