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Hungary approves extradition of key figure behind Football Leaks

Budapest’s Metropolitan Court has today (Tuesday) approved the extradition of a hacker who is said to be a key player behind the Football Leaks website that has exposed multiple instances of alleged corruption and malpractice in the sport.

The ruling comes after Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national, was detained on a European arrest warrant issued by Portugal on January 16 in the Hungarian capital where he has lived since early 2015.

Judge Judit Csiszar said, according to the AFP news agency: “The extradition request cannot be refused. EU member states are expected to have similar judicial standards.”

The 30-year-old has been accused by prosecutors of “aggravated attempted extortion, illegitimate access and theft of data from some institutions, including the state itself.” However, he has denied partaking in criminal acts, along with receiving any material gains from these actions.

Football Leaks has cooperated with several European media organisations, unleashing a wave of revelations in two parts, the first at the end of 2016 and the second in November last year. Pinto is said to have been behind a leak of internal emails at Benfica, which led to fraud allegations and a corruption lawsuit involving the leading Portuguese Primeira Liga club.

Pinto’s lawyers have said he is an “important part” of the Football Leaks website and Portuguese magazine Sabado revealed his identity in September. Speaking in court today, Pinto said he had sought to cooperate with authorities, adding that those in his home country were “biased regarding football matters”.

Pinto added: “Since the Sabado magazine revealed my identity I have received several death threats, my family has been threatened at home and online, I should be on a witness protection scheme as exists for whistleblowers elsewhere in Europe.

“Instead the Portuguese authorities are treating me like a criminal, it is in their interest that something bad…happens to me.”