Friday 2 December 2016

World's 'largest facilitator of child porn' to appeal US extradition

Eoin Reynolds and Dearbhail McDonald

Published 17/12/2015 | 02:30

Eric Eoin Marques at a previous court appearance. Photo: Patrick Cummins Photography
Eric Eoin Marques at a previous court appearance. Photo: Patrick Cummins Photography

The High Court has ruled that an Irishman, described by the FBI as "the largest facilitator of child porn in the world", should be extradited to the US.

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However, the extradition of Eric Eoin Marques has been postponed for at least 15 days to allow time for an appeal.

Mr Marques (30), 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 where, if convicted, he could be sentenced to 100 years and spend the rest of his natural life in jail.

The State had sought to surrender him to US authorities while Mr Marques, who has both Irish and US citizenship, sought a judicial review of the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to prosecute him in this country.

Yesterday, High Court judge Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly delivered a judgment on the extradition, saying it had been issued with due process and did not constitute a violation of his constitutional rights.

The judge, who last year refused to extradite alleged terror suspect Ali Charaf Damache to the US, also rejected a judicial review that argued Mr Marques should be tried in Ireland, rather than the US.

The State appealed the Damache ruling and the appeal was due to be heard next January. But the 50-year-old Algerian born Irish passport holder, who is wanted in the US to face charges relating to the conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism, was arrested in Barcelona last week on foot of an international alert.

Mr Marques's legal team had argued they were entitled to know why the DPP was not prosecuting the case but Justice Donnelly rejected this.

She said there was nothing in the case that should overturn the long-standing immunity of the DPP from having to give reasons for its decisions.

She added it is not her function to set out guidelines for how the DPP should act in extradition cases, saying to do so would effectively be legislating.

Speaking for Mr Marques, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last May, barrister Mark Lynam indicated that the decision will be appealed and asked for a stay to be put on the issue of the warrant.

Judge Donnelly said that application should be made to the Court of Appeal, but said Mr Marques should not be submitted for at least 15 days to allow time for an appeal. The charges against Mr Marques relate to images on over 100 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 claims.

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".

Irish Independent

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