The controversy over the rape allegations surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo has taken a new twist.
Ronaldo's US-based lawyer has released a statement saying that the acknowledgment by the Portuguese star that he'd had non-consensual sex with Kathryn Mayorga in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 had been "altered" by hackers.
Crime, law enforcement and corrections
Crimes against persons
Peter Christiansen was hired by Ronaldo after Mayorga went public with her claims that the 33-year-old footballer had raped her.
"Mr. Ronaldo vehemently denies all of the allegations in the complaint and has consistently maintained that denial for the last nine years," said Christiansen in a statement.
"The documents which purportedly contain statements by Mr. Ronaldo and have been reported in the media are complete fabrications.
"In 2015, dozens of entities across many different industries (including law firms) throughout Europe were hacked and their electronic data was stolen and captured by a cyber criminal."
According to Christiansen, the hacker "attempted to sell this data," with "significant portions altered and/or completely fabricated."
Der Spiegel response
The Ronaldo story was was initially published by German publication Der Spiegel, which went on to identify Mayorga and share her account.
"Our story is carefully researched," said Der Spiegel's Christoph Winterbach, after CNN Sport asked the German publication for a response to Christiansen's statement.
"We have hundreds of documents from different sources that substantiate our reporting. We have no reason to believe that those documents are not authentic.
"Furthermore, as always and before publishing every single article in Der Spiegel, we have meticulously fact-checked our information and had it legally reviewed."
While acknowledging the existence of a non-disclosure agreement between Ronaldo and Mayorga, Chriastiansen added: "To absolve any doubt, Mr. Ronaldo has always maintained, as he does today, that what occurred in 2009 in Las Vegas was consensual in nature."
"While Mr. Ronaldo does not deny the existence of the mutual agreement and release, his motivations for agreeing to that resolution have been twisted to say the least."
The statement continued: "While Mr. Ronaldo is accustomed to being the subject of press attention that goes along with being famous, it is absolutely deplorable that any media outlet would support or advance such an elaborate and deliberate defamation campaign based on stolen, easily manipulated digital documents.
"He is confident that the truth will survive this frenzy and the laws of Nevada will be upheld and enforced."
In its response to CNN Sport, Der Spiegel pointed to its publication of two versions of a document with statements by Ronaldo.
"It's a questionnaire that comes from his lawyers and describes the course of the night, in which the alleged rape occurred," said Der Spiegel.
"The first version of this questionnaire, in which Ronaldo is quoted as saying that Ms. Mayorga said "No" and "Stop", is consistent with many details of Ms. Mayorga's description of the incident.
"Both also state that he apologized to her afterwards. In a later version of this questionnaire, Mr. Ronaldo denies the accusation of rape and denies apologizing to Ms. Mayorga.
Las Vegas police has since re-opened the complaint made by Mayorga, who is said to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the alleged incident.
The allegations state Ronaldo, now playing for Juventus, raped Mayorga while she repeatedly screamed no, according to a lawsuit filed in Clark County, Nevada.
Mayorga's lawsuit accuses Ronaldo and his entourage of taking advantage of Mayorga's fragile emotional state to coerce her into signing a settlement and nondisclosure agreement in 2009.
She claims she received $375,000 in exchange for her silence. Her lawsuit seeks to void the settlement and agreement.
'Way to go, altogether'
"Before publishing our story about the rape accusations, we gave Mr. Ronaldo and his lawyers the opportunity to respond to the allegations," said Der Spiegel.
"They could have disputed the facts that we presented to them. They did not do that. In no way did they claim that parts of our information were 'pure inventions.' One of his lawyers threatened to sue us for publishing because he said that we infringed Mr. Ronaldo's personal rights. So far, we have not received anything in this regard."
"Only Kathryn Mayorga and Cristiano Ronaldo know the truth about the incident that occurred on June 13, 2009. It's not our job to judge. What we do is to report. We tell both sides of the story.
"The responsible authorities of Nevada will determine the following steps in this process. So far, of course the presumption of innocence applies to Mr. Ronaldo."
Meanwhile, the 33-year-old has received backing from his own club since the allegations were made public.
Juventus has released statements of support on Twitter and Ronaldo was included in their victorious team at the weekend, scoring his side's second goal.
"Way to go, altogether," he later tweeted on his own personal account, retweeted by the Juventus official account.