FBI says Irishman is baron of online child porn

US authorities have asked the High Court to extradite a 28-year-old Irishman alleged to be involved in the distribution of online child pornography, and described by an FBI special agent as “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet”.

Eric Eoin Marques appeared before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan on foot of an extradition request by the FBI and was yesterday put back in custody until next Thursday.

The court heard that Mr Marques, who has both Irish and US citizenship, was arrested on a Maryland state warrant that records charges of distributing and promoting child pornography on the internet.

Judge Gilligan refused to grant Mr Marques, with an address at Mountjoy Square, Dublin, bail until the extradition request has been determined.

American authorities are seeking his extradition on four charges. He is charged with distributing, conspiring to distribute, and advertising child pornography. It was also alleged he aided and abetted a conspiracy to advertise child pornography and the court heard that if convicted he faces sentences of up to 30 years in prison.

The charges relate to images on a large number of websites described as being extremely violent and graphic and depicting the rape and torture of prepubescent children.

Barrister Ronan Kennedy, counsel for the Attorney General, said Mr Marques was arrested on Thursday on foot of an extradition warrant was issued by a US court on Jul 29 last.

Gardaí and the FBI both objected to bail being granted. It was claimed Mr Marques represented a flight risk and may try to interfere with evidence.

The court heard that large sums of money had passed through Mr Marques’s bank accounts, including large payments sent to accounts in Romania.

It also heard that a search of Mr Marques’s computer revealed he had made inquires about how to get a visa and entry into Russia. He had no previous convictions nor had he come to the attention of the authorities before. The FBI special agent referred to him as having been “anonymous”.

Mr Marques told the court he was born in the US but has lived in Ireland since he was five years of age. He said his father is Brazilian and his mother is Irish. He said he had visited Romania a few times.

He said he was last in Romania a few weeks ago when he withdrew €6,000 on his credit card to help a friend start a business.

He also told the court several weeks ago he searched online about a Russian visa out of curiosity due to the issues surrounding NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Through his counsel, Remy Farrell SC, Mr Marques said he would abide by any bail terms and conditions set down by the court, and had surrendered both his Irish and US passports to gardaí.

Refusing bail Mr Justice Gilligan said he accepted the evidence that Mr Marques was a flight risk.

He remanded Mr Marques in custody to a High Court sitting on Aug 8.

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