Police arrested a 30-year-old Portuguese man in Budapest, Hungary, on Wednesday evening. Portuguese law enforcement authorities had obtained a European arrest warrant against the man, who has been accused of attempted extortion and the possiblly illegal acquisition of data. The Portuguese authorities are now seeking his extradition.
The detainee's French lawyer, William Bourdon, who in the past has also represented Edward Snowden and the prominent banking whistleblowers Hervé Falciani and Antoine Deltour, described his client in a statement as a "great European whistleblower and part of 'Football Leaks.'" Bourdon said his client had sought to expose criminal practices in football to the world. The attorney identified the suspect as Rui Pedro Gonçalves Pinto. Pinto retained the services of Bourdon as well as a Portuguese and a Hungarian lawyer.
The documents provided by Football Leaks on illegal deals in professional football have triggered numerous investigations in a number of European countries in recent years. Several European countries launched investigations into serious cases of tax evasion following the publication of details from the documents.
Pinto, as his lawyers wrote in their press release, has been threatened repeatedly in recent years. "Mr. Rui Pedro Gonçalves Pinto was able to indicate to his lawyers how he had been, throughout this period, threatened, many agencies having put at the service of various players in the world of football to try to silence him by any means." The lawyers wrote that they would do everything in their power to prevent their client's extradition to Portugal. They stressed that, as a whistleblower, Rui Pinto is subject to special legal protection under European law.
The Signal, an American foundation that provides support to whistleblowers, has said it will provide assistance to the jailed Portuguese national.
DER SPIEGEL has published numerous articles over the past two years together with the journalism network European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) based on documents from the whistleblower platform Football Leaks. For reasons of source protection, DER SPIEGEL and EIC do not comment on the identity of possible sources.