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Luanda Leaks: Who is Rui Pinto, the Portuguese hacker behind the leak?

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Portuguese hacker Rui Pinto (centre) has been named as the whistleblower
Portuguese hacker Rui Pinto (centre) has been named as the whistleblower   -   Copyright  Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -   Pablo Gorondi
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A Portuguese hacker awaiting trial for his involvement in Football Leaks has come forward to say he is also behind the release of documents that have allegedly implicated Africa's richest woman in a huge money-laundering scandal.

The lawyers for Rui Pinto, 31, said on Monday their client had given a hard drive with the files to the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) in 2018.

This was then passed on to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which led an inquiry and published its findings last week.

PPLAAF has since confirmed in a statement that it received the documents from Pinto, while the ICIJ has confirmed that it also received the documents from PPLAAF.

The investigation, dubbed the Luanda Leaks, is said to reveal how Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of Angola's former leader, accumulated her wealth by embezzling money from state entities and laundering it through foreign banks.

She has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

But attention has also turned to the person releasing the files - who is he, and why has he revealed his identity?

'John' of Football Leaks

Rui Pinto spent three years working under his codename "John" to send 70 million documents from top football clubs and their officials to Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.

It led to what became known as "Football Leaks" as Der Spiegal - and a number of other European outlets - used the data to publish evidence of widespread alleged corruption at the heart of football.

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But Pinto, who was living in Hungary at the time, was eventually tracked down by authorities and placed under house arrest before being extradited to Portugal.

He is now in jail awaiting trial for 147 charges against him, including attempted extortion, unauthorised access to data and violation of correspondence.

Why reveal his name in the Luanda Leaks scandal?

One of Pinto's lawyers, Teixeira da Mota, has said his client hopes that by revealing himself as the source behind the Luanda Leaks that prosecutors will now view him as more than just a hacker.

“I’d like international authorities to look at him differently now,” da Mota told Reuters news agency.

He added: "To treat him as a whistleblower, and move away from the punitive approach they’ve taken thus far."

Euronews has reached out to Portuguese prosecutors for comment.