Irishman loses appeal against US child porn extradition

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the extradition challenge of a man accused by the US of being the world’s biggest facilitator of child pornography.

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

The FBI believes he is the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site, known as Freedom Hosting.

He was arrested by the gardaí in 2013, on foot of a formal request from the US. He has brought a number of separate, but related actions against his proposed extradition, including a challenge against the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s decision not to prosecute him in Ireland, for offences for which he is wanted by the US authorities. His challenge against that decision was also dismissed.

In 2017, he brought fresh proceedings, aimed at halting his extradition to the US. His lawyers argued that the Minister for Justice needed to know the reasons why the DPP decided not to prosecute, before the minister could properly exercise his discretion in making an order for Mr Marques’s surrender.

The court was also asked to determine if the reasons given by the minister, in a decision made in June 2017, ordering Mr Marques’s extradition, were adequate.

His application was dismissed by the High Court last November, and he appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeal. The minister opposed the application.

In its judgement yesterday, the Court of Appeal, comprising Mr Justice Michael Peart, Mr Justice Alan Mahon, and Mr Justice John Hedigan, dismissed the appeal.

Giving the court’s decision, Mr Justice Peart said the High Court was entirely correct. Noting that while “extradition is a process of international co-operation in the criminal sphere between sovereign states”, it was not a criminal proceeding and involves “no finding of guilt or innocence”.

The judge said that Mr Marques had no entitlement to require the minister to obtain from the DPP the reasons for deciding not to prosecute him in Ireland.

He had no right to a refusal of his extradition because the DPP had made a decision not to prosecute him, and no right to even require the minister to consider exercising that office-holder’s power to refuse his extradition, the judge said.

The court was also satisfied that the reasons given by the minister to allow Mr Marques’s extradition were clear.

Nothing more was needed to be explained in regard to that decision, the judge added. In all the circumstances, the judge said, the court was satisfied to dismiss the appeal.

The case will return before the court on Friday, when lawyers for Marques may seek to have the case appealed to the Supreme Court.


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