Saved by the Pope

The man behind Football Leaks was tried for 89 computer intrusion offences and one extortion attempt. The court found him guilty of almost all of them. But an amnesty for young offenders approved due to Pope Francis's recent visit to Portugal cleared him of 79 of those charges.

By Nuno Tiago Pinto

On 4 September 2020, one year and eight months after being arrested in Budapest, Rui Pinto entered the courtroom located on the sixth floor of the Lisbon District Court. Uncuffed and with his usual spiky hair, he wore blue trainers with green laces, scruffy jeans, and a dark blue shirt. He sat alone on the far right of a row of chairs at the back of the room, next to his representatives, Francisco Teixeira da Mota and Luísa Teixeira da Mota. In addition to them, the hacker was joined that morning by French lawyer William Bourdon. Although he couldn't follow what was going on in the courtroom because he didn't speak the language, Bourdon made a point of being present at the first session of the Football Leaks trial, in which Rui Pinto was charged with 90 felonies: 68 of improper access, 14 of breach of correspondence, six of illegitimate access, one of computer sabotage and, the most serious of all, attempted extortion of Doyen Sports Investments and its former CEO Nélio Lucas. Among the victims of hacking were, in addition to Doyen, members of the Lisbon club Sporting CP, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), the law firm PLMJ, and the Attorney General's Office.

Shotguns and automatic weapons
Rui Pinto was wearing a bulletproof vest, one of several security measures imposed by the Public Security Police to protect the hacker who, despite being on trial, was also under the Portuguese witness protection program. Police barriers had been set up outside the courthouse to keep out the journalists who began arriving...

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