Ireland to extradite alleged top child porn webmaster to US

The charges relate to images of child abuse on more than 130 websites (posed photograph).
The charges relate to images of child abuse on more than 130 websites (posed photograph).FILE PHOTO

DUBLIN (AFP) - An Irishman alleged by the FBI to be the "largest facilitator of child porn in the world" can be extradited to the United States to face charges, an Irish court ruled on Wednesday.

Dublin-based Eric Eoin Marques, 30, is wanted in the US on offences related to the advertisement and distribution of child pornography.

Marques, whose lawyers said he would appeal the ruling, is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous web-hosting service known as Freedom Hosting.

The charges relate to images of child abuse, some involving rape and other graphic violence, on more than 130 websites distributed through the hosting service.

In her judgement at the High Court in Dublin, Judge Aileen Donnelly consented to the extradition request.

"The court has determined the extradition to the USA for the purpose of a trial on these alleged offences do not amount to a violation of his constitutional or conventional rights," Donnelly said.

Marques, who holds dual Irish-American citizenship, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013.

Marques, dressed in blue jeans and a black jacket, did not speak during the hearing but waved to family as he was led away.

He has repeatedly been refused bail since his arrest on the grounds he presents a flight risk, could abscond or could interfere with evidence in the case.

Marques had also sought a judicial review of the decision by the Irish director of public prosecutions (DPP) not to prosecute him in Ireland.

His legal team had previously raised concerns that his Asperger's syndrome, which was diagnosed since his arrest, would lead to a "real risk of him being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment in the federal prison system."

Donnelly said no surrender to the US authorities should take place until the 15-day deadline for appeal had passed.

Extradition can take place once the Irish justice minister signs a surrender order.