Tuesday 21 October 2014

Child porn suspect denied bail

Published 13/09/2013 | 16:11

FBI special agent Brooke Donahue (right) with Detective Inspector Declan Daly leaves the High Court in Dublin following the extradition hearing of Eric Eoin Marques who is wanted in America where he is accused of being the largest facilitator of child porn in the world

A man described by the FBI as being the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet has been remanded in custody after being refused bail for a second time.

Eric Eoin Marques is wanted in the United Stated on four charges linked to website images described as being extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.

Mr Justice John Edwards, sitting at the High Court in Dublin where extradition proceedings are under way, accepted evidence from the FBI and Irish police that the 28-year-old is a flight risk or likely to destroy evidence if released.

Marques, who has Irish and US citizenship, is wanted in connection with four counts involving the advertising of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, conspiracy to advertise child pornography, and conspiracy to distribute child pornography.

If convicted in the US on all four counts he could be jailed for up to 100 years.

Marques, who has Irish and US citizenship, is being held on four counts involving the advertising of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, conspiracy to advertise child pornography, and conspiracy to distribute child pornography.

The judge said that despite taking into account that Marques was entitled to the presumption of innocence, was an Irish citizen with a family network around him and was not a fugitive on the run from another country, he could not grant bail even with stringent conditions.

Marques, of Mountjoy Square in Dublin's north inner city, is accused of being the sole administrator of an anonymous hosting server called Freedom Hosting where the FBI claim thousands of members allegedly posted millions of images of child pornography.

Mr Justice Edwards said the charges were very serious and carried substantial sentences.

He said Marques had already attempted to interfere with evidence when gardai went to arrest him by "making a dive" for his computer to try to turn it off.

Investigators also claimed that after he was initially questioned by gardai, Marques managed to get back on the Freedom Hosting server - which had been taken over by the FBI - and change the passwords.

Elsewhere, the judge raised concerns over the creation of a false identity online and a scan of a US passport that had been found.

He said the factors against bail outweighed the factors for bail.

"The circumstances give rise to concern this man may abscond and/or interfere with evidence ... such that I cannot grant this man bail, even on a regime of strict circumstances," Mr Justice Edwards said.

Dressed in a grey hoodie and jeans, Marques listened intently as the judge delivered his 50-minute ruling a day after he heard the bail application brought by defence barrister Remy Farrell.

The judge said there had been no major change in the circumstances of his case since another judge refused bail on similar grounds the day after his arrest on August 1.

Marques was remanded in custody until October 22 when the case will be mentioned again, and nodded to family members in the court as he was led away.

FBI special agent Brooke Donahue was yesterday asked by Patrick McGrath, barrister for the Attorney General of Ireland, if the bureau still believed Marques was the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet.

"Yes, that is still true today," the agent told the court, objecting to bail.

Mr Donahue told the court that not only did Marques visit the sites, but he had administrator access to one with "some kind of control over it" and direct knowledge of what he was hosting.

The judge accepted the FBI agent's evidence that it was suspected Marques was looking for somewhere to live that would make it hard for extradition to the US, like Russia.

He rejected claims by defence lawyers that Marques had been searching online about residency and citizenship in Russia because of his interest in whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"I do not find it particularly convincing and certainly it does not allay the worries that I have having heard the evidence of his actions and inquiries as regard to Russia," the judge added.

Elsewhere the FBI and Irish police said they had evidence that large sums of money passed through Marques's bank accounts in the last year, including large payments sent to accounts in Romania, 1.5 million US dollars of transfers in and out of one Bank of America account, and huge sums wired to Allied Irish Bank accounts - which have not yet been frozen.

Press Association

Read More

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News