The whistleblower behind Football Leaks occur completely out of the anonymity. In an interview with Der Spiegel, has Rui Pinto, alias ‘John’, about the accusations against him and about his motives. ‘I like Ronaldo the most complete footballer in the history. But his behavior off the field you must be different rate. In a criminal sense.’
The man who wereldvoetbal the past few years, the experience has do shake lives since last week under house arrest in his apartment in Budapest. The whistleblower using the alias ” John …
The man who wereldvoetbal the past few years, the experience has do shake lives since last week under house arrest in his apartment in Budapest. The whistleblower using the alias ‘John’ shared more than seventy million documents, including many strictly secret, with Der Spiegel, that they, in turn, analyzed with the research network European Investigative Collaboration. Johns real name is Rui Pinto, his lawyer revealed last week his identity after his arrest. In anticipation of a decision about a surrender to Portugal, Pinto an ankle bracelet.
Are you a hacker?
Rui Pinto: ‘I am not a hacker. I am a whistleblower.’
Can you tell us how you have more than 70 million confidential and, in some cases, highly sensitive documents of the international voetbalindustrie have in your hands?
‘I started doing this. But I’m not the only one. In the course of time, there are still more resources to come, that their material with me have shared. So grew our database. Of course I give here are not the names of medeactivisten price. Therefore, this is not the ideal time. At present it is to me.”
The prosecutor in Portugal has a European arrest warrant against you issued that led to your arrest two weeks ago. Therein you are accused of a cybercrime. That is related to the club Sporting Lisbon, and with the publication of confidential e-mails in 2015. What you have to say about this?
‘I deny the accusation of hacking. But it is true that I was granted access to confidential documents from the voetbalindustrie.’
In addition, you will be accused of that in the autumn of 2015, your insider information was used in an attempt to the investment company Doyen Sports to politics.
“I was in possession of data which can be unhealthy for Dean. I suspected that they were important to misconduct, to denounce, but I still had no complete picture of the importance. Therefore, I started a game. I sent an e-mail to the company under a false name and offered to have the documents return in exchange of a sum between 500,000 and a million euros.’
That is not a game. That sounds like blackmail.
‘At that moment I was not able to see all the data to verify. I wanted to know how important the documents and the information for Doyen. I thought I was behind it could see how much they wanted to pay for my silence. I wanted the money, don’t assume, I just wanted to Doyen debunking.’
You have even a lawyer to reached a deal to you had to settle. He has consulted with the ceo of Doyen.
‘That’s right. I wanted to see what they would offer. Meanwhile, I said to myself: “If I let them bribe, am I no better than this whole industry.” Therefore, I wrote to Dean that they their money were allowed to keep. I have been denied. There is not a cent paid. What I’ve done, was very naive. Now that I look back, I regret. But according to me it was not a crime.’
It is also said that researchers suspect that you FC Porto incriminating e-mails delivered to his chief rival, Benfica Lisbon. The publication of these documents caused a great commotion in Portugal and put Benfica in a crisis. You Had something to do with it?
“I have no statement from the authorities read in which a connection between me and the Benficaschandaal is demonstrated. The Benficaverhaal last autumn, brought out by a magazine. That has changed my life. My picture was in the country on the front pages. On my Facebook page and my e-mail address came a wave of death threats.”
Have you ever had money knocked off the power that your knowledge of the criminal practices of the voetbalindustrie you?
“I know that such rumours are circulating in Portugal. I will give you a clear answer: No. Never.’
Have you offers to your data to sell?
‘Multiple. One time I got an anonymous e-mail received which me more than half a million euros was offered. I have all of them rejected.’
The lawyer who on your behalf with Doyen negotiated, you already had previously represented, in a dispute with the Caledonian Bank in the cayman islands. Portuguese media are reporting that $ 300,000 of the bank stolen. Is that true?
‘Ultimately, I have no money received from this bank. It is not that I have money stolen. That is not the true story.’
What, then, is the true story?
“I should not talk about the exact circumstances because I have a nondisclosure agreement for which bank signed have. One thing is for sure: if I committed a crime did, the bank would me a process called. The case is never for a court to come, and my criminal record is clean until now. Both in Portugal as in the rest of the world.”
Opponents of Football Leaks suggest that your documents may not be used because they are illegally obtained.
‘Others claim that the data is manipulated, distorted or taken out of context. The result is, they say, that they can not be admitted as evidence in a court of law. I think that is nonsense. The documents are authentic. That is what counts.”
You Had certain intentions with the collection of your data?
“I’ve researched who the key players are in the fraudulent voetbalindustrie, which brokers and consultants are most often involved in fraudulent practices. I wanted those practices to light.”
Especially at the beginning of the Football Leaks-examination, you had a large number of documents about Cristiano Ronaldo. Why about him?
‘First of all shows that I really unbiased. Ronaldo is my favorite player. I consider him as the most complete footballer of the history. But his behavior off the field should be very otherwise be assessed. In a criminal sense. This my information has been helpful and they still are. I don’t care if my favorite player or my favorite club FC Porto, and thereby suffer damage. I give all the relevant data.’
You will see a difference between a whistleblower and a hacker?
“I do not consider myself a hacker, but as an ordinary computer user. For me, there is little difference between someone who has incriminating documents from a company to the outside, or someone who publish material that he is from the outside. Ultimately it is the whistleblowers who practices bring to light that might otherwise remain hidden for the society: crimes, offences and misconduct. In the best case, whistleblowers, hence, a social debate los and excite them to the government for investigations.’
Have you ever had the feeling that something illegal did?
“No, not so far. In the course of the years, my records examined by the European Parliament, by media in Europe and by many research institutions. I am convinced that I have something good I have done with my actions.’
Have you never had doubts?
“Quite. Especially because I don’t always agree with the results. In particular, the investigative bodies have of me is often disappointed. Take, for example, the systematic tax evasion by the Spanish voetbalindustrie. Additionally, the researchers almost always willing to take pleasure in with an additional levy of a few millions of euros. They dug, never by the root of the evil. Real estate agents, lawyers and bankers remained outside shot. Yet they are the ones who pull the strings. They have fraud systems set up.’
Have you ever said who your major influences are: Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Antoine Deltour, the well-known whistleblowers of the recent past. Do you think you align with them?
“I have no need to compare myself; this is not a Formula 1 race. It is me never to do been to be the biggest whistleblower in the world, but as much as possible, the crimes brought to light.’
You have your study history was never finished. Why?
“The university is my attitude towards Portugal changed. Many of my friends left the country because they no longer saw by the economic crisis. Politicians and greedy entrepreneurs have a once-successful country ruined. Nothing is functioning yet. I hope for Portugal is completely specified.’
How did you deal with that situation?
‘First I chose to Erasmus to go to Budapest. I was never been abroad and had always had my parents lived. After a half year I came back, but I knew that I wanted to go back to Hungary. A year later I went to Budapest emigrated.’
What brought you in the autumn of 2015 on the idea of your website Football Leaks to launch?
“I am even at a young age is a football fan and I realized all around the time of the Bosman-ruling that the football is all wrong developed. The best young players went automatically to the top teams. The whole competition changed in favor of the clubs. The main reason was the Fifa scandal in 2015. Regardless of all the arrests at the international federation, I saw that there are also irregularities were numerous transfers within Portugal. That more and more investors in this market have been displaced. I began to collect data.’
How you came to your technical know-how? Have you ever computer science degree?
How do you have the data verified?
‘I’ve read. I have a lot to read. Each day I sat the documents for hours to analyze. The more I read, the more my astonishment grew.’
“A large number of documents showed how offshore companies were set up, how the activity of players’ agent hiding behind front men, how large-scale tax evasion was done. The business flourished. The money flowed to accounts in tax havens.’
When realized that you are the enemies was?
‘The firm of Doyen showed me followed by private investigators. Also a mighty football club has done that. Once upon a time, I was at a party was approached by a young woman. She flirted with me, but I noticed that something was not right. She asked me for my phone number and I gave it to her. I wanted to see what she has in her shield of arms.’
She Was also a private detective?
“No, she was a boulevardjournaliste that for a large English sensatiekrant worked. But that I discovered only when I got a text message you received: “Hello, we know that you are the man of Football Leaks. I work for a legal company. We have interest for your documents.” She wanted to get me in the fall.’
Why did it take the police so much time trying to find you?
‘A good question. I have here in Budapest the whole time an apartment had. I led a totally normal life.’
At the meetings with Der Spiegel, you have told us that you to the two days of location changed.
“Yes, I traveled a lot. But with my regular id. I hid not.”
How are you arrested and where in Budapest?
‘It was early in the evening of 16 January. My father was with me on a visit with my stepmother. When I was with him came back from the supermarket and turned to the street where my apartment is, I was approached by two agents in a burger. They checked my identity card and I had my bags and my backpack empty. Then, they showed it in Hungarian, drawn up the European arrest warrant see and reminded me of handcuffs.’
You have your arrest to contact a lawyer?
“That I have prevents. I said goodbye to my parents and said that everything would be ok. Then I was taken to the police station and locked in a cell for two persons. My fellow-prisoner fell. But in the night there came to the half-hour is a depositary, the light above my bed on and off. That was only done to me.’
How long are you in the cell?
‘Two nights. Then I was brought on stage and gave the court order to keep me under house arrest.’
The Hungarian police items in your apartment seized?
“My computer, ten hard drives, mobile phones, and also a few other electronic devices.’
Are these data of interest to the general public because they are perhaps the crimes described?
Are those hard drives encrypted?
‘I wish not to answer.’
About what amount of data?
“Ten terabytes, which I am six haven’t passed on.’
Have you or your medeactivisten copies of this data?
‘I can not answer.’
The Portuguese authorities will ask for your extradition. What do you think will happen with the confiscated data if the Portuguese judiciary that in your hands?
‘The Hungarians would these hard drives do not at all allow them to give. Because the arrest warrant lists only accusations on which date of 2015. I think that the Portuguese first, everything in me is found, want to get to even more lawsuits against me to prepare for. But that is not admissible. For example, a rule of law.”
What do you hope for?
“I expect that public ministries in the whole of Europe together will come and the Hungarian, and Portuguese legal authorities will demonstrate that my information is of great general interest. These documents are necessary for their research to crimes to prosecute, crimes substantially more serious than what a whistleblower does.’
With which European research institutions have you already been in contact?
‘With several. But up to now I have only spoken with the French researchers.’
When the first meeting occurred?
“In the winter of 2018 in Paris.”
It went then only to help as an anonymous kroongetuige or had you already considered to have your identity revealed?
“We have all the possible options discussed.’
What about the investigations against Cristiano Ronaldo, that an American woman has been accused of rape, and deny this?
“I have also worked with the police of Las Vegas, with the brigadier that the investigation of that case.’
What does that say exactly?
“I’ve documents will be made available.’
If you are approached by the Us authorities?
There Is by research institutions all contact with you after the first major revelations of Football Leaks in 2016?
“I’ve had a few mails received from tax authorities, among others, from Germany, from Munich.’
How do you then react?
“Some requests for information were very brutal. The British tax researchers first wanted my name and address to know. That is idiot to a whistleblower who wishes to remain anonymous. Of course I have not answered. When I still had no lawyers. I needed time and a strategy that my personal protection is guaranteed. Even when all was the most credible request for information from France.’
“They were very determined and professional. They made it clear that they seriously were planning to cases of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion in football to continue. I had the feeling that I could trust and I had a powerful partner needed. The French authorities via Europol investigate launch. I can take my data with them to share and they can pass. One contact is enough. If other countries serious research, they have France. And they have me.”
After the revelations of Football Leaks ever a football club has been contact with you want to include?
“The Fifa nor the Uefa has Football Leaks contacted. That is frustrating. In my interviews under the pseudonym John I have repeatedly made it clear that I documents would pass on if I have a signal is received that that interest would have to be light on the facts to cast. Such a message I never received.’
Why the resistance you feel against extradition to your home country?
“I am fairly sure that I’m in Portugal do not have a fair trial. The Portuguese judiciary is not fully independent. You encounter a lot of hidden interests. Of course, there are also public prosecutors and judges in their work seriously conceived. But the voetbalmaffia is everywhere. She wants to give a signal that you better not argue with her.’
Are you afraid of a possible prison sentence in Portugal?
“I’m nervous, because I am a target for attacks, particularly from fans of Benfica Lisbon. Since last autumn I’m on Facebook constantly inundated with death threats. When I made the French researchers said, I’ve got them that show. They said that those threats very seriously, had to be taken. I’m afraid that, if I were in a Portuguese prison ended up, especially in Lisbon, I don’t have a living will leave.’
This interview was made by Der Spiegel, NDR and Mediapart