Saturday 22 July 2017

Man accused of being world's 'largest facilitator of child porn' makes last-ditch legal bid to halt his extradition to the US

Eric Eoin Marques is facing extradition to the US
Eric Eoin Marques is facing extradition to the US

Aodhan O'Faolain

A man accused of being the world's biggest facilitator of child pornography has made a last-ditch legal bid aimed at halting his extradition to the United States.

Eric Eoin Marques is wanted by the American authorities on charges including conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography and advertising and distributing child pornography.

The FBI who say Mr Marques is the biggest facilitator of child pornography in the world claim he is the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

The charges against Mr Marques, with an address at Mountjoy Square in central Dublin, 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 High Court ordered his extradition, which Marques opposed, in December 2015.  His appeal against that order was dismissed last December by the Court of Appeal.

At the High Court on Friday Michael O Higgins SC, instructed by solicitor Caroline Egan, for Marques said his client was seeking permission from the High Court to bring fresh judicial review proceedings aimed at preventing his surrender.

The action has been brought arising out of the Minister for Justice's refusal to use her discretion to halt Marques's extradition, counsel said.

Counsel for the state Patrick McGrath SC said the state would be opposing the application.

While it was intended to surrender Marques to the United States on Saturday the state was prepared to give an undertaking not to do so until the latest legal action has been heard by the High Court.

The matter came before Mr Justice Paul Coffey during a vacation sitting of the High Court. 

Noting the urgency of the matter, and the state's opposition to Mr Marques's application the Judge adjourned the matter to Tuesday's sitting of the High Court.

The judge was told by Mr O Higgins that in addition to opposing the extradition request Marques has brought actions over the DPP's decision not to prosecute him in respect of offences in respect of which his extradition had been sought to the USA.

Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal had dismissed that action. Last month the Supreme Court turned down Marques bid to bring an appeal on that issue before it. 

Counsel added that an application to the European Court of Human Rights, that would have put a stay on the extradition, had also been unsuccessful. 

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