Rui Pinto, also responsible for the Luanda Leaks case, in which Angolan Isabel dos Santos is the main target, has been at liberty since 7 August, by decision of the president of the collective of judges responsible for the trial, Margarida Alves, of the Central Criminal Court of Lisbon, and is, for security reasons, part of the witness protection programme in an undisclosed location and under police protection.

Who is Rui Pinto

Rui Pinto became the creator of Football Leaks and, under the pseudonym 'John', released information from Budapest, Hungary, where he was arrested on 16 January, 2019, as part of a European Arrest Warrant. The Portuguese, 31 years old, lived in the Hungarian capital since February 2015, after visiting first between 2012 and 2013, as a student of History at the Faculty of Arts, University of Porto, under the Erasmus Programme.

Born in Mafamude, Vila Nova de Gaia, on 20 October, 1988, Rui Pinto, a confessed supporter of FC Porto and a "football fanatic since childhood", grew up in the area of Praia de Lavadores, in the parish of Canidelo.

In 2013, he was the only suspect of embezzling some 264,000 Euros from Caledonian Bank after accessing the computer system of the Cayman Islands-based banking institution. The criminal investigation was filed by the Porto Department of Investigation and Penal Action in October 2014, following an extrajudicial agreement between the young man and the bank.

The crimes for which Rui Pinto will be tried

In September 2019, the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) charged Rui Pinto with 147 crimes: 75 of illegitimate access, 70 of violation of correspondence and one of computer sabotage, for accessing the computer systems of Sporting, of the investment fund Doyen Sports, of the law firm PLMJ (he was part of Benfica's defence in the process known as 'e-toupeira'), of the Portuguese Football Federation and of the Attorney General's Office and subsequent disclosure of dozens of confidential documents, subject to judicial secrecy, professional secrecy of lawyers and commercial secrecy, also accessing the personal data of third parties.

The crime of attempted extortion (between 500 thousand and one million Euros) concerns Doyen, with the counterpart that the creator of Football Leaks does not reveal confidential documents of this investment fund. According to the MP, in October 2015, there was a face-to-face meeting at the A5 highway service station in Oeiras between Nélio Lucas, at the time the legal representative of Doyen Sports, and Aníbal Pinto, then lawyer of Rui Pinto, the second defendant in the case, who acted as intermediary.

Both defendants requested the opening of an investigation, an optional phase that aims to decide by a criminal investigation judge if the case continues and in what form for trial. In January of this year, the Lisbon Criminal Investigation Court pronounced (decided to bring to trial) Rui Pinto for 90 instead of the 147 for which he was accused: 68 crimes of undue access, 14 crimes of violation of correspondence, six crimes of illegitimate access, computer sabotage of Sporting SAD and extortion, in the attempted form, the latter crime for which the lawyer Aníbal Pinto was also pronounced.

The reasons for Rui Pinto’s release

By order of 7 August, Judge Margarida Alves justified the release of Rui Pinto with “continuous and consistent collaboration” with the Judiciary Police and his “critical sense”. The president of the panel of judges who will judge Rui Pinto for 90 crimes also justified the decision with the behaviour shown in recent months by Rui Pinto, who “shows that there is no circumstance” of article 204 of the Criminal Procedure Code (danger escape, danger to the conservation or veracity of the evidence, danger of continuing criminal activity or serious disturbance of public order and tranquillity).

In the order, Judge Margarida Alves also reports the letter sent to the file on 10 July by the director of the Central Department of Investigation and Penal Action (DCIAP), in which Albano Pinto reveals that Rui Pinto "effectively proceeded to unblock the access codes of all electronic devices that remained inaccessible" and "continues to show complete willingness to continue collaborating with justice".

The defendant, who had been under house arrest since 8 April of this year and prohibited from accessing the Internet, is "subject to the obligation of periodic weekly presentations to the police authority". The change in the coercive measure and the consequent release was opposed by prosecutor Marta Viegas, who will be the public prosecutor present at the trial.

The witnesses called by Rui Pinto

Rui Pinto enrolled 45 witnesses to testify at the trial, including personalities from sports, politics, the national director of the Judiciary Police (PJ) and Edward Snowden.

Former MEP Ana Gomes, who has always defended Rui Pinto, is the first on the list of witnesses, who have other names related to politics, such as the former coordinator of the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) Francisco Louçã and the former minister Miguel Poiares Maduro, or sports personalities, such as the former president of Sporting Bruno de Carvalho, the coach of Benfica, Jorge Jesus, and Octávio Machado.

PJ National Director Luís Neves and Edward Snowden, former system administrator of the United States National Security Agency (CIA), who revealed confidential information and illegal espionage programmes in 2013, are other witnesses in the defence signed by lawyers Francisco and Luísa Teixeira da Mota.

The defence strategy

Although in the indictment (decision to bring Rui Pinto to trial) Judge Cláudia Pina considered that it was "legal and that there was no violation of a fair trial" for Rui Pinto, regarding the extension of the original European Arrest Warrant (EAW), requested by the Portuguese authorities and authorised by Hungary, which allowed the Portuguese justice to extend the investigation and indictment to Rui Pinto, the defence of the defendant reiterates the "illegality" of this extension of the EAW.

In their defence, the lawyers also consider that the search for Rui Pinto's residence in Budapest, and the consequent seizure of computer devices, was carried out by an "illegal criminal police agency", which is why he claims it to be "a prohibited means of evidence".

In the document, the defence maintains that "the defendant's conduct presents a diminished guilt, taking into account the reasons of the practice of the facts: looking for evidence of the practice of serious crimes to disclose them publicly". The lawyers add that Rui Pinto "regrets that, in order to obtain the data he was looking for, he ended up committing criminal offences".

The witnesses of the prosecution

Former Sporting President Bruno de Carvalho, President of the Portuguese Football Federation, Fernando Gomes, and lawyer Nuno Morais Sarmento, also vice-president of PSD, are among 71 witnesses listed by the Public Ministry in the charge against Rui Pinto.