The Court of Appeal denied a Dublin man, the owner of Freedom Hosting, the chance to stand trial in Ireland. Eric Eoin Marques, known by the FBI as “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet,” held a dual US and Irish citizenship. In 2013, after a Maryland indictment accused Marques of distributing and promoting child pornography on the darknet.
In 2013, after his arrest in Dublin, an FBI agent flew to Ireland and fought to extradite Marques. The suspect remained in custody throughout his hearings—the FBI said he would try to escape to Russia where extradition would be difficult. In 2015, Justice Aileen Donnelly ordered the extradition of the alleged Freedom Hosting admin but granted him a week to file an appeal. Justice Donnelly claimed extradition to the United States “infringe on his human or constitutional rights.”
Days short of one year later, Justice Michael Peart denied the appeal and ordered extradition. The defendant lost two cases in the Court of Appeals in early December. His appeal against the prior extradition order, first and foremost. His second loss was an appeal against a judicial review wherein he argued Ireland had no right to try him (and why the Director of Public Prosecutions refused to prosecute him despite his willingness to plead guilty in Ireland).
Marques fought to remain in Ireland for years now and not without strong reason—the US charges could result in a lifetime of imprisonment. In Ireland, where Marques struggled to remain, he would only serve 14-years, coming out of prison a 45-year-old. He said, numerous times, he would plead guilty to all charges in Ireland. If he could stay in Ireland. As of the December hearing, his future likely involved prison bars in the United States.
Like Gary Davis, another Irishman who faced extradition to the US, Marques’s argument involved mental health conditions. Marques claimed the US lacked interest in providing treatment for those with mental health conditions. Notably both Davis and Marques argued their Asperger’s syndrome would be worsened in the US. Interestingly, the Judge overseeing the Davis case agreed that US institutions failed to provide mental health support. However, the argument lacked the weight to prevent Davis’s extradition and similarly failed for Marques. A forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital testified that Marques functioned rather well in prison; he only struggled with a mild form of the condition. Justice Michael Peart noted that the defendant received the diagnosis during the hearings and within the last nine months.
To summarize the start of the case—as the Freedom Hosting arrest is far from new—one of our writers explained, “according to Special Agent Donohue, Freedom Hosting’s thousands of members used the hosting website to post millions of images of child abuse.” He continued, “the pictures were described as being ”extremely violent and graphic” and are illustrating the rape and torture of underaged children.”
Lisa Marie Freitas, a US special assistant attorney, said that one site was accessed 1,534 times. It included categories such as “jailbait, pre-teen, toddlers, girls and boys”. She said that each category contained numerous videos of child sex abuse and that the internet addresses stored in the memory of Mr. Marques’s computer included administrator pages for the site.
Final orders will be given seven days from December 13, 2016.