09.04.2020 17:27 h

'Football Leaks' hacker Rui Pinto to cooperate with justice officials

Hacker Rui Pinto, the man behind Football Leaks and Luanda Leaks, is ready to cooperate with Portugal's judicial authorities, according to a document seen by AFP on Thursday.

Pinto, whose defenders portray as a whistleblower who has revealed mass wrongdoing in football, has been moved to house arrest in Portugal as he awaits trial for attempted blackmail.

The Portuguese hacker "has changed his stance" and "demonstrates a readiness to collaborate" with Portuguese officials, said the judge who approved Pinto's release from precautionary detention.

The judge's comments were made in a document sent to AFP by Pinto's lawyers.

Pinto, 31, was extradited from Hungary in March 2019 for allegedly attempting to blackmail investment fund Doyen Sports, asking for between 500,000 and one million euros ($546,000-$1.08 million) in return for not publishing documents that he had obtained illegally.

The Portuguese judge estimated that Pinto was unlikely to flee the country "given that borders are currently subject to stricter controls owing to the pandemic" of COVID-19.

She also felt the hacker should benefit "like any other citizen, from the best possible conditions to remain safe and in good health."

Pinto's placement under house arrest was announced Wednesday, and was linked to a ban on using the internet.

His lawyers say the hacker is a whistleblower whose actions have allowed prosecutors in several countries to investigate wrongdoing in professional football.

Pinto's revelations, which first appeared in 2015 and were eventually published in Germany's Spiegel and other European outlets, have sparked criminal investigations in Belgium, Britain, France, Spain and Switzerland.

In January, Pinto also claimed to be behind the Luanda Leaks, a release of 715,000 compromising documents that focus on Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos, daughter of former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.