herald

Monday 24 July 2017

'World's largest facilitator of child porn' tries to halt extradition to US

Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques

An Irish man described by the FBI as the world's "largest facilitator of child pornography" is making a legal bid aimed at halting his extradition to the US.

Eric Eoin Marques is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting,

He is wanted by the US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography and advertising and distributing child pornography.

The charges against Mr Marques relate to images on more than 100 "anonymous websites" described as being extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.

The 30-year-old, of Mountjoy Square, central Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013.

His surrender was ordered by the High Court in December 2015, which he opposed.

His appeal against that order was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Marques also brought actions over the DPP's decision not to prosecute him in respect of the offences for which his surrender is sought. He had offered to plead guilty to the alleged offences in Ireland.

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

An application to the European Court of Human Rights, which would have put a stay on the extradition, had also been unsuccessful, the High Court has heard.

Discretion

Mr Marques has now launched fresh judicial review proceedings aimed at halting his surrender over former Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's alleged refusal to use her discretion to halt his extradition.

Mr Marques was not present in the High Court for yesterday's hearing before Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly.

However, his barrister, Micheal P O'Higgins, spent much of the hearing outlining why his client should have access to records that were before the minister when she allegedly refused to use her discretion.

He said he needed the documents to find out "did the minister actually choose not to make a decision whether to exercise her discretion not to extradite".

As for his grounds for judicial review, Mr O'Higgins said the minister should have had the DPP's reasons not to prosecute him here, and that she should have advanced those reasons to his client.

He also wanted to ascertain if she had regard to irrelevant considerations and had not had regard to relevant considerations.

He also said an issue of fairness arose, especially when the requested material was in the possession of one party and that no indication had been given about a difficulty or problem providing it.

Counsel for the justice department has been given until close of business on Wednesday to provide an amended statement of opposition. The hearing will then continue on Friday.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News