BUDAPEST – A Hungarian court authorized on Tuesday the extradition of a suspected Portuguese hacker who leaked confidential data from the world of soccer in a self-confessed bid to reveal shady deals and corruption.
Judges at the Budapest court granted the extradition requested by Portugal for Portuguese national Rui Pinto, 30, who is suspected of handing data, often collected from e-mails, to the website Football Leaks, which said it sought to highlight corruption in the sport akin to the manner in which Wikileaks targeted politicians.
Hungarian authorities detained Pinto in Budapest on Jan. 16 after Portugal issued a European arrest warrant for accusations of extortion and cybercrime, including the alleged harvesting of millions of documents from email addresses and illegally recording thousands of telephone conversations.
The Portuguese prosecutor’s arrest warrant is specifically linked to his alleged leaking of confidential data unlawfully gathered from Benfica and Sporting, which both play in Portugal’s top-flight.
Football Leaks is an online platform that also aims to expose popular soccer players who evade taxes and other legal charges.
Pinto, 30, appealed the decision by the Hungarian court and explained to the press that not extraditing him, “is a matter of life and death.”
Following his arrest on Jan. 16, the suspected cyber-leaker claimed that Portuguese authorities wanted something to “happen” to him.
Pinto has been accused of attempting to blackmail companies and football clubs as well as stealing state and institutions’ data.
Pinto’s lawyer, William Bourdon, who also defends famed ex-CIA agent and whistleblower Edward Snowden, said that his defendant qualifies for protection under the European Court of Human Rights as Pinto disseminated secrets in the public interest.
Bourdon warned that if Hungary extradited Pinto, authorities would possibly lose the chance to, “examine all the documents and use Pinto as a witness.”
Meanwhile, the director of the Cybercrime Combat Unit of the Portuguese judicial police, Carlos Cabreiro, explained that some of the crimes attributed to Pinto – such as extortion, illegal access to information, violation of secrecy – entail penalties of up to ten years in prison.
One popular Football Leaks story that was widely read was the publication of the details of a judicial agreement between model Kathryn Mayorga and Cristiano Ronaldo on 2009 rape allegations.
United States police in Nevada launched an investigation after Mayorga accused Ronaldo of sexual assault at a hotel in Las Vegas, an accusation that Ronaldo denied, saying their encounter was consensual.
Mayorga said that the now-Juventus player paid her $375,000 as part of an out-of-court settlement.
The allegations came to light in a Football Leaks report and then in an article in Sept. 2018 by the German magazine Der Spiegel.