Football Leaks hacker Rui Pinto – the man who exposed Manchester City’s breaking of Financial Fair Play rules – remains in prison awaiting a court case.
Pinto hacked his way into club emails from his Portugal home in 2015 and then passed them on to the media and sparked the investigation into City’s finances.
Despite being widely praised by the football world, Pinto was arrested and sent to prison, and will face a trial for 90 different counts of hacking, sabotage and fraud.
Pinto was denied an appeal on Thursday and has been in jail since last March, while awaiting a verdict by the Lisbon Court of Appeal.
News of UEFA’s decision to ban City from the Champions League for the next two seasons saw Pinto’s name start trending with the hashtag #freePinto on Friday night.
Borussia Dortmund fans even held aloft a banner appealing for authorities to drop the case and allow Pinto to walk free.
Football Leaks was created back in 2015 and has exposed everything from tax fraud to clubs breaching FFP.
Pinto reportedly got hold of 70 million documents and 3.4 terabytes of information and told Der Spiegel recently that he was aware of the risks of his work.
‘I was aware that anything could happen,’ he said to the German newspaper. ‘I knew that Portuguese authorities prosecute whistleblowers, so I had to be ready for that.
‘The Portuguese authorities are afraid of what I know and that’s why it is important that I not lose my mind.
‘In the beginning, I wrote notes related to the case in my notebook, but then it was taken from me. My lawyer was present when they searched my cell and said it was illegal to take my notes from me.
‘It wasn’t the prison guards who did it, but the Portuguese prosecutors. They do anything they want. It was a month before they returned the notebook to me.’