From the arrest in Hungary in 2019 to today, Rui Pinto's life has been turned 'upside down' for blowing the whistle on corruption. He has admitted, if he knew then what he knows now, he would never have tried

Public Prosecution Service seeks jail-term for Football Leaks whistleblower

PJ boss Luís Neves has described Rui Pinto as “a young man with serious concerns about society”

After endless twists and turns, Portugal’s public prosecution service has stuck to its guns over Football Leaks whistleblower Rui Pinto, saying it wants him to be sentenced to jail for 89 of the 90 crimes still standing against him.

In closing arguments in the trial that began over two years ago, lead prosecutor Marta Viegas insisted the only charge not proven has been that of computer sabotage (of the SAD (sports management company) of Lisbon football club Sporting).

In Viegas’s view, the defendant’s illegitimate access of email accounts of Sporting employees – including then president Bruno de Carvalho and former coach Jorge Jesus – “were not the reason for the system going down, (as it) was already down.

“The defendant’s action did not then have the effect outlined in the indictment,” Viegas acknowledged, expressing the conviction that, for this reason, the crime of computer sabotage of Sporting SAD, as listed on the charge sheet, was not proven.

But she maintains that everything else should stand – including the conviction of Rui Pinto’s former lawyer for attempted extortion.

Newspaper articles in the past have suggested Pinto’s ‘crimes’ could see him jailed for a total of 25 years (equivalent to the maximum sentence for murder…)

Computer genius Pinto, now only 34, faces 90 charges (from an original roll-call of 147): 68 counts of undue access, 14 of violation of correspondence, six of illegitimate access – targeting entities such as the Sporting, sports agency Doyen, law firm PLMJ, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) and the office of Portugal’s attorney general, as well as computer sabotage at the Sporting SAD and attempted extortion. 

He has explained minutely what his motives were “to expose the rot in football”, and in many circles he is hailed a hero.

Rui Pinto is the same whistleblower who exposed Luanda Leaks, which has reverberated around the world and may (just may) lead to Angola recovering lost billions.

If there was a whistleblower’s charter in Portugal, Rui Pinto would have had protection. 

Since his arrest in Hungary back in March 2019 he has been cooperating with police – to the extent that the head of the PJ Luís Neves has stressed he hopes very much that Rui Pinto is left to lead a normal life. “Hypocrisy has to be put to one side”, he told Diário de Notícias in 2020, saying it is “urgent” that the legal status of repentance be created, to reward people who decide to collaborate with Justice, particularly when this leads to accusations against organised crime and/ or groups involved in corruption”, which Rui Pinto’s information clearly has.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com