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Portuguese hacker linked to Football Leaks held in Hungary

Budapest (AFP) – Hungarian police said Thursday they had arrested a suspected Portuguese hacker linked to the Football Leaks whistleblower website who is accused of extortion in Portugal.

French lawyers for 30-year-old Rui Pinto confirmed the arrest and said they would fight any attempt at extradition.

Without naming Pinto, Budapest police said that a man was arrested on Wednesday following a warrant “issued by the Portuguese authorities on 15 January”.

Portuguese police said he could be extradited within a month.

“In accordance with the warrant, items in his possession believed to be connected to criminal activity were also seized,” Budapest police said, adding that extradition proceedings were under way.

Portuguese prosecutors said that the man was suspected of “aggravated attempted extortion”.

Pinto’s lawyers described him as “a young Portuguese man who loves football and who, out of disgust at practices that he gradually became aware of, decided to reveal to the world the extent of criminal practices which not only affect the football world but do grave damage to its image”. 

“These are the Football Leaks revelations” which over several years have given rise to the publication of crucial information, resulting in several investigations,” the lawyers said.

According to Portuguese media reports, Pinto is a self-taught IT expert from the Porto suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia and has been living in Budapest for several years.

The Sabado magazine was the first to reveal Pinto’s identity in September and linked him to the Football Leaks website which has published several revelations about alleged wrongdoing in the football industry.

In 2016, a consortium of several European media organisations used material from Football Leaks to expose alleged tax evasion in the football world, notably by Cristiano Ronaldo when he was at Real Madrid.

In November a new tranche of revelations alleged that UEFA had helped Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City get around the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules that are meant to regulate clubs’ spending.

Pinto is also suspected of being behind the leak of internal emails at Lisbon’s Benfica club which were then used by Porto FC to accuse Benfica of having improper influence over referees.

The same emails sparked a corruption lawsuit targeting a former legal adviser for Benfica, who is accused of having improper access to confidential legal documents.

Pinto has also been linked to a data hack on the Doyen Sports investment fund which was also targeted by Football Leaks. 

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