An FBI agent has claimed a man accused of being the largest facilitator of child porn in the world was attempting to move to Russia to avoid extradition to the United States.
Eric Eoin Marques is wanted in America for four charges linked to website images described as being extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.
Mr Justice John Edwards, sitting at the High Court in Dublin where extradition proceedings are under way, will rule tomorrow if the 28-year-old will be granted bail.
The court previously refused bail on grounds that Marques was a flight risk or would destroy evidence if released.
Marques, who has Irish and US citizenship, is being held on four counts involving the advertising of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, conspiracy to advertise child pornography, and conspiracy to distribute child pornography.
FBI special agent Brooke Donahue was asked by Patrick McGrath, barrister for the Attorney General,, if the bureau still believed Marques was the largest facilitator of child porn in the world as previously stated.
“Yes, that is still true today,” he told the court, objecting to bail.
Marques, of Mountjoy Square in Dublin’s north inner city, is accused of being the sole administrator of an anonymous hosting server called Freedom Hosting, where multiple websites were held and where it is alleged pornographic images were shared.
The FBI agent alleged when officers examined the RAM from Marques’s seized computer it revealed he had made inquires about how to get a visa and entry into Russia, and residency and citizenship there.
He said a document recovered in further investigations was a “high quality” scan of a fake US passport in the name of Edward Thomas Brown, which Mr Donahue said would have passed a visual inspection at border controls. The jpeg was recovered on emails sent to companies as identification to buy web space.
On-line searches had also been made for a US passport template and US passport hologram star, he added.
“He was looking to engage in financial transactions with another hosting company in Russia,” said Mr Donahue.
“My suspicion is he was trying to look for a place to reside to make it the most difficult to be extradited to the US.” He rejected claims Marques had carried out the online searches as he was interested in Edward Snowden staying in Russia, adding that the whistleblower had been looking for asylum.
“We do have charges against him and they will not release him,” he said.
Mr Donahue said given the seriousness of the offences the accused would be likely to “spend the rest of his life in prison”.
If convicted in the US on all four counts he could be jailed for up to 100 years.
Investigators claimed that after his initial arrest at the end of July Marques managed to get back on the server – which had been taken over by the FBI – and change the passwords.
Elsewhere the FBI and Irish police said they had evidence that large sums of money had passed through Marques’ bank accounts in the last year, including large payments sent to accounts in Romania, $1.5m worth of transfers in and out of one Bank of America account, and huge sums wired to Allied Irish Bank accounts – which have not yet been frozen.
Detective Inspector Declan Daly said Marques had access to considerable finances and would be able to conduct his business from any country in the world with internet access.
“I would object bail because I do not believe he would attend his hearing for his extradition,” he added.
Defence barrister Remy Farrell said his client, who has no previous convictions, must be entitled to a presumption of innocence.
He said while a number of concerns have been raised, he asked that those concerns would not be met with stringent conditions.
However, Patrick McGrath, for the Attorney General, argued that the accused faces serious charges and has access to large sums of money and computers.