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Friday 19 September 2014

Case against ‘largest facilitator of child porn in the world’ put back

Published 21/01/2014 | 11:37

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Eric Eoin Marques

THE extradition case against an Irishman described by an FBI Special Agent as “the largest facilitator of child porn in the world” has been put back for another week.

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

The 28-year-old, with an address at Mountjoy Square in central Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August, 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 charges against Mr 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 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”.

Lawyers for Marques this morning asked the High Court for a two week adjournment in the case as there was an ongoing matter with regard to legal representation.

Mr Justice John Edwards said he would put the matter back for one week as he was anxious that some progress should be made in the case.

In December the extradition court heard that the DPP had decided not to bring proceedings against Mr Marques with respect to the alleged offences.

Counsel for Mr Marques, Mr Remy Farrell SC, told the court that a detailed letter had been submitted to the DPP, in which it was indicated that Mr Marques would enter a plea of guilty were the offences to be prosecuted in this jurisdiction.

The High Court previously heard it was alleged that an examination of Mr Marques’ 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 also 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 totalling 100 years.

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