“My work as a ‘whistleblower’ is finished. I never received money for what I did. I’m not a hacker, I’m a whistleblower. I made a lot of important information public that otherwise would never have been known,” said Rui Pinto, at the beginning of the first session of the trial at the Central Criminal Court in Lisbon.

Rui Pinto, who did not want to comment on concrete facts, expressed “indignation” at what he discovered and was available to “continue collaborating with the authorities”, pointing out that “important inquiries are under way” with his denunciations.

“I’m in a strange situation here: I’m a defendant and a protected witness. I’ve been the target of a slander and libel campaign. I’ve been in prison for a year and a half, with seven months of total isolation. It was very difficult,” he said.

The first session of the trial, chaired by Judge Margarida Alves, which was scheduled for 9.30am, began at 10.45am, surrounded by a strong police presence - expressed with a security perimeter around the premises and with the presence of special units of the Public Security Police (PSP) - and media, attracting dozens of journalists from various countries.

At the entrance, the lawyers representing the creator of Football Leaks, Francisco Teixeira da Mota and William Bourdon, did not want to make statements, like the lawyer Aníbal Pinto, the other defendant in the case, pronounced only for the crime of extortion, in the attempted form.

Rui Pinto, 31 years old, shall answer for a total of 90 crimes: 68 of undue access, 14 of violation of correspondence, six of illegitimate access, targeting entities such as Sporting, Doyen, PLMJ Law Firm, the Portuguese Football Federation and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as for computer sabotage of Sporting’s SAD and for extortion, and for attempted extortion.

The creator of Football Leaks has been at liberty since 7 August, “due to his collaboration” with the Judiciary Police (PJ) and his “critical sense”, but is, for security reasons, part of the witness protection programme in an undisclosed location and under police protection.