An Irishman who is wanted in the US and was described as “the largest facilitator of child porn in the world” has failed in an application to seek judicial review of the DPP’s decision not to prosecute him here.
Eric Eoin Marques, who is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting, is wanted by US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography, and advertising and distributing child pornography.
The 28-year-old, with an address at Mountjoy Square in central Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August last year, after he was refused bail over concerns he represented a flight risk and that he may abscond or interfere with evidence in the case.
In December last year, the extradition court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions had decided not to bring proceedings against Mr Marques with respect to the alleged offences.
The court heard that a detailed letter had been submitted to the DPP, in which it was indicated that Mr Marques would enter a plea of guilty were the offences to be prosecuted in this jurisdiction.
This afternoon at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice John Edwards said he had decided to refuse Mr Marques leave to challenge, by way of judicial review, the decision not to prosecute him.
Mr Justice Edwards said Mr Marques would also not be granted leave to seek judicial review of the refusal of the DPP to give her reasons for not prosecuting him.
He said he would put the case back until October 14 to give Mr Marques’ counsel time to consider the judgement and with a view to fixing a date for the extradition hearing itself, subject to anything the applicant’s counsel had to say.
Mr Justice Edwards remanded Mr Marques, who appeared before the court wearing a grey and green hoody, blue jeans and navy runners, in custody until that date.
The charges against Mr Marques relate to images on over a hundred "anonymous websites" described as being extremely violent, graphic and depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.
The websites in question have "thousands of members" who have posted "millions of images" of child pornography. Some the children involved are infants, the FBI claim.
The extradition court previously heard from FBI Special Agent Brooke Donahue, who described Mr Marques as "the largest facilitator of child porn in the world”.
The High Court also previously heard it was alleged that an examination of Mr Marques’ home computer by gardaí showed that as well as hosting and facilitating the child pornography websites, Mr Marques was also visiting the sites, had direct knowledge of what he was hosting and had administrator access to one site.
It was alleged that Mr Marques was attempting to gain access to foreign website hosting companies using a fraudulent image of a United States passport.
The court heard that Marques had “substantial financial resources” – with $1.5m passing through one bank account - and had searched the internet about whistleblower Edward Snowden and about obtaining a Russian visa.
There was evidence that Freedom Hosting operated off a server space which was allegedly paid for by an account in Eric Marques’ name from a US bank account, and the billing address was through a private mailbox facility in Las Vegas assigned to Eric Marques.
The court heard that, if convicted, Mr Marques faces spending the remainder of his natural life in prison as the four charges could result in a sentence totalling 100 years.