Man of many faces

On the eve of his trial in Lisbon, the man behind Football Leaks admitted he illegally hacked dozens of email accounts. Rui Pinto argued that he had a noble purpose: to reveal serious crimes. That’s why, he says, he should be considered a whistleblower, not a hacker.

By Nuno Tiago Pinto , staff writer at Sábado magazine in Portugal

From the moment Football Leaks was created on 29 September 2015, the man behind the website that exposed football industry’s best kept secrets always gave the same answer every time he was questioned about how he had obtained the cache of documents he revealed: he guaranteed that he received them from multiple sources and that he was no hacker. 

The first time he stated it was in December 2015 in an email exchange with The New York Times, under the alias “John”: While “people may think we are hackers, we are only regular computer users”, he said. 

In February 2016, during a meeting with Der Spiegel in an unidentified town in Eastern Europe, he repeated he was no hacker, cryptically adding: “We have very serious, secure sources. However, some of our sources do not realize that they are our sources. The important thing is that all our documents are genuine”.

Later that year, when questioned by Der Spiegel if he was a hacker, “John” replied:

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