Hacker Who Leaked Soccer’s Secrets Loses Extradition Hearing

A computer hacker who for years published the innermost secrets of the global soccer industry — revelations that have shed light on questionable behavior by some of the sport’s most influential figures and top clubs — was told on Tuesday that he would be extradited to Portugal, where he faces charges linked to his activities.

Lawyers for the man, Rui Pinto, 30, immediately said they planned to appeal the decision made by a court in Budapest, where he was arrested in January. They argued that his whistle-blowing activities far outweighed any crimes he might have committed in securing the documents. In Portugal, Mr. Pinto is charged with an extortion attempt in 2015 on a secretive investment fund that had bet millions of dollars in the player transfer market.

The leaks first emerged in 2015, on a website called Football Leaks, before Mr. Pinto, a year later, joined with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel and a group of other European news media organizations to slowly disseminate related news articles. They painted an unflattering picture of an industry troubled by questionable efforts to avoid millions of dollars in tax, flagrant rule breaking by some top clubs and an alleged sexual assault by one of soccer’s biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Portuguese authorities want to put Mr. Pinto on trial, their counterparts in France and Belgium have said they want to work with him, to gain access to the enormous database he has compiled as they continue investigations into figures in the soccer world. The ruling in Hungary makes that difficult, said Francisco Teixeira da Mota, who is part of a legal team that includes William Bourdon, a French lawyer who previously represented the national security whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Hungarian officials seized all of Mr. Pinto’s computer equipment, including hard drives containing the soccer industry data, when he was arrested. The Hungarian judge ruled that all of that can be sent to Portuguese authorities. That will chill efforts by the authorities in other countries, and make it impossible for further revelations to emerge, Mr. Teixeira da Mota said.

“We think if he’s extradited to Portugal it would put a stop to all that,” he said, adding that the Portuguese case is limited to Mr. Pinto’s conduct in relation to the investment fund Doyen Sports and the soccer team Sporting Clube de Portugal.

It is not clear how much of the data Der Spiegel possesses and how much of it the news weekly is prepared to share with investigators.

While being hailed as a whistle-blower by many, Mr. Pinto’s past conduct has raised questions about his motives. He reached an out-of-court settlement with the Caledonian Bank after being accused of hacking into its systems and transferring thousands of dollars from one of its client accounts. Mr. Pinto denies he stole any of the money, but citing a nondisclosure agreement, he has declined to provide further details.

As he awaits his fate, news media groups with access to his data continue to publish new revelations. As recently as last weekend, details emerged of an apparent effort by the Premier League giant Manchester City to circumvent fiscal rules set by European soccer’s governing body by disguising sponsorship payments, and another alleged scheme by the same club to run an off-the-books player recruitment fund.

Mr. Pinto’s appeal is likely to take up to two weeks to be settled, his lawyer said.

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