A Portuguese court has delivered a verdict declaring Rui Pinto, the notorious hacker behind the “Football Leaks” revelations, guilty. Pinto, aged 34, has been sentenced to a four-year suspended prison term for his role in exposing questionable activities within the international football community.
Rui Pinto had asserted that his actions had initiated criminal investigations across five European nations. However, the court found him guilty of five counts of “illegitimate access” to IT systems and three counts of “correspondence violations.” Additionally, he faced charges of attempted extortion against the investment fund Doyen Sports.
Presiding Judge Margarida Alves, in Lisbon, stated, “On the whole, the facts described [by prosecutors] have been considered proven.” She continued, “The freedom to inform does not justify violations of privacy,” Adding that “It has clearly been established that he (Rui Pinto) was hoping to get money.”
During the court proceedings, Pinto appeared wearing a surgical mask, clad in his signature attire of jeans and a dark blue shirt. He had been accused of a total of 89 hacking offenses related to the acquisition of documents, which he began leaking in late 2015.
Over the subsequent three years, Rui Pinto disseminated 18.6 million documents on the internet and shared them with a consortium of European newspapers, causing shockwaves throughout the football world.
These documents included revelations about the salaries of prominent figures like Lionel Messi and Neymar, allegations of misconduct against Cristiano Ronaldo, financial irregularities at Manchester City, and instances of ethnic profiling at Paris Saint-Germain.
Rui Pinto Found Guilty: Portuguese Court Rules on Football Leaks Mastermind
At the commencement of his trial in September 2020, Pinto informed the court that he had been profoundly disturbed by the contents of the documents he had uncovered and was proud to have brought them to the public’s attention. However, he admitted to having used illegal methods to obtain these documents.
His alleged victims encompassed the prestigious Portuguese football club Sporting Lisbon, the Portuguese Football Federation, legal professionals, judges, and Doyen Sports, an investment fund headquartered in Malta and managed by Kazakh-Turkish oligarchs.
Rui Pinto was apprehended in Hungary in 2019 and subsequently extradited to Portugal. He spent a year in detention before agreeing to collaborate with Portuguese authorities on other cases, providing access to encrypted documents he had acquired. This positioned him as both a defendant and a protected witness in Portugal.
The French authorities have also sought Pinto’s cooperation in the “Luanda Leaks” case, which involved the release of 715,000 documents containing compromising information about Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Dos Santos, once considered the wealthiest woman in Africa, has faced numerous legal challenges, including allegations of embezzling billions of dollars from Angolan state-owned companies during her father’s four-decade-long tenure in office.