Case emails from Benfica. Porto Canal officials go to trial. “They put together a weekly telenovela”, says Carlos Alexandre – Observer

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Francisco J. Marques and Júlio Magalhães, then responsible for Porto Canal, as well as commentator Diogo Faria will even be tried for having disclosed the content of several emails from Benfica on a television program, judge Carlos Alexandre decided in an indictment of 242 pages signed this Monday and to which the Observer had access.

Carlos Alexandre thus endorsed the position of the assistants and the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) for the public and private accusations, thus putting FC Porto’s communication director, Francisco J. Marques, and the former director of Porto Canal, Júlio Magalhães, on trial. for crimes of violation of correspondence or telecommunications, undue access and offense to a legal person, and Diogo Faria, commentator on the program ‘Universo Porto – da Bancada’, for a crime of violation of correspondence or telecommunications and another of undue access. All of them divulged, over the course of several television programs, information from e-mails that would have been hacked to Benfica.

The defendants broke into this illegally obtained information, filtered it, reported it, reorganized it and mounted a weekly telenovela under the cover of journalistic investigation, to destroy the credibility of Sport Lisboa e Benfica ”, reads the indictment.

Emails from Benfica. Francisco J. Marques accused of seven crimes, Júlio Magalhães answers for three

The investigation of the process, opened in April 2020, took place in Lisbon after a request made by Benfica’s own SAD. Carlos Alexandre now sends the case to the Lisbon Central Criminal Court, where news of the crime was initially reported.

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Francisco J. Marques was accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, on February 24, 2020, of three crimes of violation of correspondence or telecommunications, three crimes of violation of correspondence or aggravated telecommunications, in an apparent contest with three crimes of breach of privacy and a crime of improper access. He will also answer for five aggravated crimes of offense to the legal person and one crime of offense to the aggravated legal person following a private indictment.

Diogo Faria will answer for a crime of violation of correspondence or telecommunications and a crime of improper access. For private accusation he will answer for a crime of offense to the collective person aggravated.

Júlio Magalhães, on the other hand, saw the public accusation of three crimes of violation of correspondence or telecommunications aggravated in an apparent contest with three crimes of debauchery of private life and the private accusation of five aggravated crimes of offense to a legal person.

The crimes allegedly took place over the several months in which they fed the television program, reporting the contents of the emails that would have reached Francisco J. Marques anonymously, first with a warning by SMS and then by email. It was a collection of 20 gigabytes of information that the information director ended up sending to PJ three times later. Additional information was later published on the Mercado de Benfica blog, which was created by Rui Pinto, the creator of Football Leaks, who is being tried for a total of 90 crimes: 68 of improper access, 14 of violation of correspondence, six access, targeting entities such as Sporting, Doyen, the law firm PLMJ, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) and the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), as well as computer sabotage of Sporting’s SAD and extortion , in the attempted form. This last crime concerns Doyen and was what also led to the indictment of lawyer Aníbal Pinto.

Francisco Marques justified in court – at this stage in which an investigating judge decides whether or not to take the case to trial – that the information released by him reached him in an “unexpected” way and that, for his biblical interest, he decided to make its disclosure in the program “Universo Porto — Da Bancada”. In question would be alleged crimes committed by one of the biggest Portuguese football clubs and the matter was of such relevant public interest, as the information director claimed, that he himself ended up being interviewed on the subject for several national and international media, like The New York Times and the New Yorker. He says that he acted “in the exercise of freedom of expression and information that assists him”.

“It is undeniable that the public denunciation in the media of any form of corruption in football is a matter of general interest for the entire community, which extends beyond the population of football club fans, leading to a reinforced protection of freedom. of expression. Furthermore, the expenditure of large sums by a football club in witchcraft practices is also a matter of public interest, as SL Benfica SAD is a publicly traded company, which imposes an imperative need for submission to public scrutiny”, reads in the defendant’s opening of instruction request, which appears in the indictment to which the Observer had access.

On the other hand, Francisco Marques also justifies that he selected the information, having left out matters concerning the intimate, family and sexual lives of the people mentioned in them, giving as an example personal data of referees, their wives and their lovers.

The defendants also claimed that some of the assistants, as was the case with Benfica’s SAD, did not have the legitimacy to file a complaint against them, but each e-mail holder did.

For Judge Carlos Alexandre, it was clear in the instruction that the defendants “preferred that the roles were reversed and that they were the assistants”, but he summarizes the case in three points: the defendants obtained information that they believed, because they were told, to have been obtained through crimes against the assistants; the defendants broke into this illegally obtained information, filtered it, reported it, reorganized it and mounted a weekly telenovela under the cover of journalistic investigation, to destroy the credibility of Sport Lisboa e Benfica, according to the indictment. And, for the magistrate, they did so with only two reasons: for club rivalry and for audiences.

Carlos Alexandre also considered the thesis presented by the defendants on the lack of legitimacy of the complainants as inappropriate and “insufficient”, this because a legal person has a relevant interest in the protection of electronic mail and because the emails, although from natural persons, are inserted in a professional domain belonging to to the assistants.

“We subscribe to the understanding that the computer attack directed at the computer system of Benfica SAD from which information from employees of that entity is disclosed, is of interest precisely because this information is vital or relevant for Benfica SAD itself!”. “The privacy of the assistants was violated in addition to the privacy of those involved in the electronic correspondence”, considered the judge.

Another argument that Carlos Alexandre did not accept was that the interest of this information was related to the fact that known people were involved. “What is at stake is the investigation of the knowledge and dissemination of communications between various natural persons, most of them unknown outside that restricted group of people who accompany the football phenomenon” “with the aim of penetrating and harming the rights of assistants” ”, accused the magistrate, who also recalled that Francico J. Marques works for FC Porto’s communication and is not a journalist.

“Communication directors, as is the case of the defendant, stand up for a club and expose themselves for the same”, he writes. “They owe obedience to the club, values ​​contrary to those of a journalistic role”, he recalls. In this case, the defendants “pursue the competitive interests of the FCP Group, not being guided by the criteria and objectivity and independence that characterize the journalistic function, but by its opposite”. And that’s why, he concluded, the sorting of the material they made was only related to Benfica.

To the Observer, lawyers Rui Patrício, Zaragoça da Matta and João Medeiros opted for a joint response. “It is a decision that we believe to be correct and that sees reality beyond the staging attempted by the defendants of an alleged public interest and false good faith, and it is an important decision for several reasons, among them because it reinforces the idea that in the rivalry Clubs cannot go for everything, including defaming and slandering, and also selecting, mixing, manipulating, decontextualizing and truncating documents, which, by the way, had already been obtained and then trafficked criminally”.