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Lawyers for alleged child porn facilitator say there is a risk of sexual violence in US prisons

Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques

Lawyers for an Irishman the FBI claims is the "largest facilitator of child porn in the world" have told the High Court that there is a risk of sexual violence in prisons in the United States, which is seeking his extradition.

Eric Eoin Marques, who is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting, is wanted by the US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography and advertising and distributing child pornography.

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

The 30-year-old with an address at Mountjoy Square in central Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013, after he was refused bail over concerns he represented a flight risk and that he may abscond or interfere with evidence in the case.

The State are seeking to surrender him to US authorities while Mr Marques is seeking a judicial review of the Director of Public Prosecutions decision not to prosecute him in this country.

Counsel for Mr Marques, Mark Lynham BL, today told the High Court 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.

Referring to notes from Professor Patricia Casey written on the condition in US prisons, Mr Lynham said that there was a risk of "sexual violence" following extradition. 

"Professor Casey notes conditions in US prisons - overcrowding, the risk of sexual violence and the inadequate provision of medical care," he said.

"For somebody like Mr Marques, if he is not appropriately treated and looked after, there is a risk of psychosis, suicidal thoughts and serious depression," he said.

He added that Professor Casey said that there are safe guards against these risks here in Irish prisons.

"Mr Marques has been able to get by (due to) contact with his mother and father," he continued.

"There's been reference to him spending lots of time playing his Play Station - breaking routine is a problem for him and the restrictive diet he has is indicative of someone with Aspergers," he said.

"If Mr Marques was being held in a US prison, there is a very significant risk of the  deterioration of his health - if that occurs, very little will be done for him," he said.

He added: "If convicted, Mr Marques will be a convicted sex offender in another country, isolated and without the capacity to form bonds which could ameliorate his position."

"If the court was satisfied the respondent could be dealt with in Ireland, the court ought to look at the proportionality of that. The effect of extradition will be harmful," he concluded.

Counsel for the State, Patrick McGrath SC, told the High Court today (Wednesday) that Mr Marques had sought no specific treatment for his condition since 2013.

"The facts establish Mr Marques suffers from what was previously undiagnosed as a mild form of Aspergers syndrome," said Mr McGrath.

"Although the applicant has been in custody since 2013, there has been no deterioration in his mental health. He has sought no specific treatment for this condition, he hasn't requested or taken any medication - the complaints have to be considered against that background," he said.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly remanded Mr Marques in custody until October 6th, when the hearing will resume.