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Tor Publisher to be Extradited to US

‘Dark web host’ is appealing against extradition to the United States

Eric Marques’s is currently appealing against a decision that would see him extradited to the United States to serve a sentence of 100-years. Marques owned the server which hosted a number of websites on the dark net. The website allegedly showed adults raping and torturing young children.

Marques is from Dublin and has both Irish and American citizenship. He has been described by the Federal Bureau of investigation as the World’s largest facilitator of child sex abuse images. Marques is launching an appeal with the Supreme Court in the hope they will overrule the decision that the Court of Appeal handed down last week. The Court of Appeal held that Marques will be extradited to the United States, if sent to the United States Marques could face a life sentence in an American prison.

Marques’ top extradition barrister argued before the Court of Appeal that he should not be extradited to the United States to face four separate charges which related to hosting and owning a dark website. It has been agreed between Marques’ extradition barrister and the state’s extradition lawyer that he will not be surrendered to the United States until a decision on the application for appeal is handed down by the Supreme Court.

Marques, 31, has been in custody since he was arrested in August of 2013. His surrender to the United States authorities was ordered in December 2015 by the High Court. The surrender was delayed due to the appeal applications; both were dismissed last week.

Marques’ top extradition barrister appealed against the extradition order, he also appealed against a legal challenge to the director of public prosecutions’ decision not to prosecute him in Ireland.

Mr Justice Michael Peart has rejected the appeals against the earlier ruling. The earlier ruling held that Marques must be extradited to Maryland, North America, despite his offer to plead guilty in Ireland. If Marques were sentenced in Ireland he would face a 14-year maximum sentence compared with up to 100 years in the United States.

Marques, who currently has no criminal record, is suspected of having made more than €1 million from the server that hosted the anonymous websites.

Marques’ top extradition barrister also raised concerns over the treatment Marques would receive in a United States prison. During the appeal it was heard that Marques has Asperger’s Syndrome, he was diagnosed with the condition in May of 2015, during the course of the extradition. Although only mildly affected by the condition it was still suggested that he would not be treated adequately in a United States prison. 

Forensic psychiatrist, Brenda Wright, who works at the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin, has given evidence during the extradition hearing. She held that Marques had been coping well in prison even though he had not been receiving any treatment for his Asperger’s. She has said that Marques’ only had one complaint, the complaint being that he did not get to play computer games as much as he would have liked.

Marques’s arrest by gardai, the Irish police force, in July of 2013 was the first major success in the FBI’s fight against the illegal distribution of material on the dark web.

In November 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union won a court case which granted them access to the previously sealed United States court documents, that granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation the power to seize websites and hack users’ computers in order to track their identities.

The documents which were accessed revealed the extent of the Federal Bureau of Inestigation’s operations against Freedom Hosting. They showed that access to Marques’s servers allowed the Federal Bureau of Inestigation to track hundreds of people, people who had previously been invisible.

Marques is accused of hosting almost 550 servers in Europe. These servers supposedly contained the infrastructure that allowed sites to operate anonymously.

Marques has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013. He was retained in custody and refused bail due to evidence given by Brooke Donahue, an FBI agent. According to Donahue Marques was planning to leave the country and move to Russia. According to Donahue, Marques wanted to move to Russia because it would be difficult for the United States authorities to apprehend him and have him extradited.

Donahue advised the court that the charges being brought against Marques were based on images received from in excess of 100 anonymous websites. The websites are described as being violent and graphic. All of them containing images or videos of prepubescent children being raped or tortured.

Marques’s application to the Supreme Court will be considered in the New Year. If the application is not successful Marques’ top extradition barrister is likely to apply to the European Court of Human Rights on an appeal that the 100-year sentence would be against his human rights.

It is currently under consideration in the United Kingdom whether actual life sentences are a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Article 3 specifies that No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There are currently only a handful of individuals in the United Kingdom who are sentenced to life in prison with no chance of early release. It is argued that a person who is spending their whole life in prison is being treated inhumanely. If these sentences in the United Kingdom are deemed to be against an individual’s Article 3 Rights, it may become the case that we are unable to extradite individuals to America because they too would be facing life in prison. Although the “lifers” in England are slightly different because unlike in the United States the individuals do not stand a chance of early release on good behaviour, the main issue with extraditing to the United States is the vast difference in sentencing lengths compared to the United Kingdom.