Heightened security in place as Portuguese whistleblower trial opens in Lisbon

Heightened security is in place as the trial of Portuguese ‘whistleblower’ Rui Pinto is due to open in Lisbon on Thursday.

Concerns for 31-year-old Pinto’s safety are paramount. 

As his lawyer William Bourdon has said: “Thanks to (Rui Pinto’s) actions, many investigations have been and will be initiated, revealing huge financial scandals that cripple our democracies”.

Up until relatively recently the young computer genius had been derided in the Portuguese press as a ‘hacker’. But it has become increasingly clear that his investigations – albeit unauthorised – have thrown up an insidious underbelly of corruption that has managed to operate in plain sight for years.

His Luanda Leaks dossier kick-started the probe that has since seen Africa’s former first daughter Isabel dos Santos charged with embezzling millions of dollars from Angola – and he has stated publicly that he has a lot more information on a lot of other ‘intrigue’, particularly affecting Portugal.

One of his champions from the outset, former MEP Ana Gomes – widely expected to challenge President Marcelo in the upcoming presidential elections race – has intimated that the whole system of Portuguese justice has been “dancing to the tune of cash registers of a very special fund known to have Kazakhstan mafia behind it” (click here).

Thus the trial of young Mr Pinto – facing 90 criminal charges – promises to be explosive. 

International media sources including The New York Times, Der Spiegel, CNN, Reuters and Associated Press will all be vying for the 20 places reserved for the press in the court-room on Floor 0 in Campus de Justiça, while many others will have to make do with listening to the proceedings via videolink from a building nearby.

Shielded now under Portugal’s witness protection program, Rui Pinto is expected to be delivered to the courtroom everyday by police drivers who will be acutely aware of how ‘dangerous’ their passenger continues to be to certain groups and individuals.

His French lawyer has already dubbed Rui Pinto “the Edward Snowden of international corruption” who “must be recognised as one of the greatest whistleblowers of the beginning of the century”.

Ana Gomes is one of 45 ‘personalities’ who have purportedly agreed to appear in court in Mr Pinto’s defence, as has Edward Snowden himself.

The strategy of the defence will clearly be to demolish all the charges against their client and secure his acquittal.

PJ boss Luís Neves has already prepared this scenario in an interview with Diário de Notícias in June in which he called for a whistleblower’s charter (click here).

At the time, Neves hinted that ‘after the trial’ Rui Pinto will have “a normal life in IT”. The unanswered question however is could this happen without the young man being given a completely new identity?

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com