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Autism diagnosis used in criminal defense of alleged Dark Net child-porn host

The FBI has described Eric Marques as 'the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet.'


Patrick Howell O'Neill

Internet Culture

Posted on May 11, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 8:56 pm CDT

Autism is the newest defense for one of the Dark Net‘s most notorious accused criminals. 

Eric Eoin Marques, 30, stands accused by an FBI agent of being “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet.” His defense attorney argued on Monday that multiple doctors confirmed he has Asperger’s Syndrome, RTE reports.

The criminal case, which began with Marques’s 2013 arrest, will be heard four times this week to address the new issue as well as Marques’s fight against extradition to the United States.

Marques, who faces four criminal charges in the U.S. related to sexualized images of children, faces up to 100 years in prison.

It is currently unclear what, if any, effect Marques’s Asperger’s will have on his trial.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation claims Marques made $1.5 million in a single year from running Freedom Hosting, an anonymous Web-hosting service run on the Tor network.

At its peak, Freedom Hosting ran several of the largest child pornography websites in existence. However, the service was in no way limited to that arena.

Hacker forums like HackBB and TorMail, once considered the most secure anonymous email service, were patrons of Freedom Hosting at one time.

Marques’s lawyers claim the defendant has a history of psychiatric care extending back 25 years. The judge was displeased that it took nearly 2 years for new evidence to arise but is allowing the case to proceed on this course.

When the judge asked if autism was a delaying tactic, the defense attorney answered it was “absolutely not.”

H/T RTE | Illustration by Jason Reed

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*First Published: May 11, 2015, 7:25 pm CDT