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"Largest facilitator of child porn in the world" to be extradited to US

Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques

A man described by the FBI as "the largest facilitator of child porn in the world" was told he will be extradited to the US today.

Eric Eoin Marques, with an address at Mountjoy Square in central Dublin, is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

The US authorities want him to face charges of conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography and advertising and distributing child pornography.

At the High Court today Justice Aileen Donnelly delivered a judgement on the extradition, saying that it had been issued with due process and did not constitute a violation of his constitutional rights.

She said that she would grant the application for extradition.

Speaking for Mr Marques, Mark Lynam BL indicated that the decision would be appealed and asked for a stay to be put on the issue of the warrant.

Justice Donnelly said the application should be made to the Court of Appeal but said that the extradition should not take place for at least 15 days to allow time for an appeal.


Evidence at hearing

The charges against Marques relate to images on over a hundred anonymous websites described as being extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.

The websites in question have "thousands of members" who have posted "millions of images" of child pornography. Some of the children involved are infants, the FBI claim.

The extradition court previously heard from FBI Special Agent Brooke Donahue, who described Mr Marques as "the largest facilitator of child porn in the world”.

The High Court also previously heard it was alleged that an examination of Mr Marques’s home computer by gardai showed that as well as hosting and facilitating the child pornography websites, Mr Marques was also visiting the sites, had direct knowledge of what he was hosting and had administrator access to one site.

It was alleged that Mr Marques was attempting to gain access to foreign website hosting companies using a fraudulent image of a United States passport.

The court heard that Marques had “substantial financial resources” – with $1.5 million passing through one bank account - and had searched the internet about whistleblower Edward Snowden and about obtaining a Russian Visa. 

There was evidence that Freedom Hosting operated off a server space which was allegedly paid for by an account in Eric Marques’ name from a US bank account, and the billing address was through a private mailbox facility in Las Vegas assigned to Eric Marques.

The court heard that if convicted Mr Marques faces spending the remainder of his natural life in prison as the four charges could result in a sentence totaling 100 years.

Marques has both Irish and US citizenship. He was born to a Portuguese father and Irish mother in New York in 1985 and moved to this State when he was five years old.

In May of this year he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum, by a psychiatrist and senior clinical psychologist from Dublin's Mater Hospital, Professor Patricia Casey and Dr Odhran McCarthy. 

Counsel for Mr Marques, Mark Lynam BL,  told the High Court that there is a "very significant risk of deterioration of his health" if the applicant is surrendered.

"There is an issue relating to Mr Marques' Aspergers and the impact of extradition and incarceration on that," said Mr Lynham.

Counsel for the State Patrick McGrath SC, speaking at the July hearing, produced an affidavit from a US official who said Marques's condition was manageable and the US Federal Bureau of Prisons was "currently providing treatment to inmates with these conditions".

The US official stated that the Bureau of Prisons would be able to provide appropriate care for Mr Marques should he be extradited and prosecuted on the alleged offences.