Tuesday 21 November 2017

FBI links €1.2m to child-porn accused, court told

Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques
FBI Special Agent Brooke Donahue

Tom Tuite

AN Irishman described by the FBI as "the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet" is alleged to have had two bank accounts in the US through which €1.2m had passed.

Details of Eric Eoin Marques's alleged financial activities – and his enquiries about Russian citizenship – were outlined yesterday as he sought bail.

A decision will be made on his application today.

Mr Marques (28) had been refused bail by the High Court in Dublin last month, on foot of an extradition request by the FBI.

US authorities want to extradite Mr Marques, who has dual Irish-US citizenship, to face trial on charges for distributing, conspiring to distribute, and advertising child pornography.

It was also alleged he aided and abetted a conspiracy to advertise child porn. If convicted he could faces consecutive sentences of up to 100 years in jail. The charges 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 have "thousands of members" who have posted "millions of images" of child pornography and some the children involved are as young as infants, the FBI claims.

Yesterday FBI Special Agents gave evidence to the court arguing that Marques should not be released on bail.

He had been refused bail last month on the grounds that he was a possible flight risk and it was feared he would destroy evidence.

However, earlier this week, defence counsel Remy Farrell successfully argued that despite the High Court's decision last month, Mr Marques was entitled to make another bail application.

He had submitted that his client, who has an address at Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1, was to face a full extradition hearing which marked a new procedural stage, and this meant that he was entitled to apply for bail again. Yesterday Mr Justice John Edwards said he would allow the fresh bail application to be made.

FBI Special Agent Brooke Donahue told the court that Mr Marques was paying for web-space to host child pornography sites and had control over a number of them.

He rented the web-space from a French company and paid for them through a bank in Las Vegas.

Mr Donahue agreed that he had described Mr Marques as "the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet" and added "that remains true to this day".

VIOLENT

The agent said he feared that if bailed, Mr Marques would "make contact with co-conspirators" over the internet,

Mr Donahue, who is attached to the FBI's violent crime against children unit, claimed there had been transactions in excess of $1.5m in accounts in the US and here linked to Mr Marques.

On Mr Marques's web search for information on obtaining Russian citizenship, Mr Donahue said: "He was trying to look for a place to reside to make it most difficult to be extradited to the United States."

Mr Farrell put it to him that Mr Marques had looked up information on Russian citizenship out of curiosity about former US whistleblower Edward Snowden. But Mr Donahue said the difference was that Snowden, a former NSA employee, had been looking for asylum in Russia, not citizenship.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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