FootballLeaks hacker convicted by French court, following earlier Portugal conviction

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In November, Rui Pinto, a Portuguese hacker behind the “FootballLeaks” Web site; received his second suspended sentence in three months from a Paris court; for penetrating the Paris-St Germain football club.  The site accused the club of being careless with league spending rules, as well as the salaries of well-known players; which he had obtained from the club’s email system.

This French conviction followed a September conviction by a Lisbon court, for penetrating computer systems of a Portuguese sports investment fund, a Lisbon law firm and the Portugal attorney general’s office; illegally intercepting email and for attempted extortion.

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He was known to be motivated to expose criminal behavior that happens in European football behind closed doors, in the public interest.

Suspended sentences

The September Portugal convictions gave Pinto a four-year suspended prison sentence. He had already served 18 months detention before his trial after his extradition to Portugal from Hungary in 2019.  The Paris sentence gave him a further six month sentence which was also suspended.

In the November conviction Paris Saint-Germain had sued for damages plus legal costs but Pinto was ordered to pay just one euro in damages.

In both cases, Pinto was said to have cooperated with authorities, which played a role in easing the penalties against him.  He had been admitted to a witness protection program in Portugal.

Not over yet

A second case is pending against Pinto in Portugal, where he is accused of 377 hacking-related crimes.

Further reading

Portuguese hacker in Football Leaks scandal handed 6-month suspended sentence by French court. Article. November 22, 2023. Associated Press, via The Washington Post

Court convicts Portuguese hacker in Football Leaks trial and gives him a 4-year suspended sentence. Article.  September 11, 2023. Associated Press

Football Leaks ‘whistleblower’ to be extradited to Portugal.  March 5, 2019. Reuters

Why it matters

The charges weren’t about piracy, per se, but like a piracy case, the revelations and extortion attempts caused by exploiting league information illegally resulted in embarrassment for players, agents and clubs, as well as official investigations.

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