Pinto convicted of hacking and extortion attempt but escapes jail time

September 13 – Rui Pinto, the infamous Portuguese whistleblower whose string of incriminating revelations about dodgy dealings shook the footballing world, has avoided prison.

Pinto was given a suspended four-year sentence on Monday on counts of computer fraud, attempted extortion and violating privacy of correspondence.

A self-taught computer mastermind, Pinto was first arrested in Hungary in January 2019, before being extradited.

His trial started in September 2020 following the most extensive information leak in sports history, exposing some of the dirtiest secrets in European football and sparking criminal investigations in Belgium, Britain, France, Spain and Switzerland.

Between 2015 and 2018, Pinto shared 18.6 million documents on the internet and with a consortium of European newspapers.

Prosecutors charged him with 89 hacking offences and attempted extortion, a crime punishable in Portugal by up to 10 years in prison.

Pinto acknowledges releasing the data but says he was acting in the public interest. His supporters have long claimed that his whistleblowing status should have been protected rather than him be treated as hacker whose actions led to millions of confidential documents being provided to the Football Leaks website.

However, the Lisbon court convicted him on five counts of “illegitimate access” to IT systems and three counts of “correspondence violations”, along with the attempted extortion of investment fund Doyen Sports.

“The freedom to inform does not justify violations of privacy,” presiding judge Margarida Alves told the court.

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