Eric Eoin Marques, the alleged owner and operator of the defunct hidden service host “Freedom Hosting,” recently launched a judicial review in an attempt to end the impending extradition to the United States. Ireland arrested the 32-year-old in 2013 after receiving a provisional extradition request from the US. Since the arrest, Marques appealed the case several times, but employed a different tactic at his most recent High Court hearing.
Freedom Hosting (not to be confused with Freedom Hosting II) was, at one time, one of the largest hosts for hidden services. And the man knew of the content on his hosting service, but allegedly opted to let it stay online. And naturally, child abuse forums and bulletins ran rampant, according to the FBI. They also called Marques the world’s biggest “facilitator of child pornography.” (Not including the FBI themselves, despite the fact that they literally ran one of biggest forums during “Operation Pacifier.”)
The US charged Marques in connection with more than 100 sites filled with graphic child abuse, torture, and rape. And in doing so, exposed their Tor Browser Bundle (and Firefox) exploit that identified some users on certain versions of the TBB. Ireland had not filed any charges of their own against Marques. In an effort to avoid the miserable conditions of US prisons, Marques agreed to enter a guilty plea for the crimes in Ireland – if it allowed him to avoid prison time in the US.
In his latest attempt, Marques launched judicial review proceedings into a decision made by the Minister for Justice. Like the Director of Public Prosecution, the Minister for Justice turned down Marques’s request to enter a guilty plea in Ireland. Achieving to the defendant’s attorney, the Minister for Justice said, in a letter to the defense, that she made her decision independent of any thoughts from the DPP.
Because extradition to the United States would have “profoundly serious consequences,” the defense argued that the Minister for Justice “needed” to reveal to her the reason for turning down the motion by Marques. “We say this rendered the proposed extradition unfair and disproportionate.” The Court heard that it was necessary that the Minister review the reasons the DPP decided not to prosecute Marques. The defense argued that she had refused to use her discretion to stop the extradition.
Council for the Minister for Justice said the defense was wildly speculating and that the suspect had no reason for knowing the information they requested from the Minister for Justice. The hearing was planned to resume shortly afterwards.