Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of grooming underage girls for sex on behalf of billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is being held in “degrading” conditions that “amount to torture” in a New York jail, her brother has claimed.
Speaking to Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in his first broadcast interview in 30 years, Ian Maxwell pleaded for his sister’s release after she was twice denied bail on the premise that she poses a flight risk.
Describing the conditions of her imprisonment at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Mr Maxwell said: “Ghislaine has been in prison now for nearly 250 days and counting.
“She is in effective isolation in a cell that measures six foot by nine foot and which includes a concrete bed and a toilet. There is no natural light.
“She is under 24-hour, round-the-clock surveillance with 10 cameras including one that moves and tracks her movements. That is her existence every day.
“The water that is provided through the prison is brown and the food that she is given is very highly microwaved and basically inedible.”
On his sister’s present state of mind, Mr Maxwell said: “She is resolute, strong in her spirit and undaunted but obviously this is very, very wearing, physically. She is a 59-year-old woman and we understand that she is losing her hair and that she is also having trouble with her eyesight and her ability to concentrate because this is a tremendous pressure to be under.”
He insisted it was “ridiculous” to say Ms Maxwell posed a suicide risk and said her confinement was being “completely overmanaged” by prison authorities under the spotlight following Epstein’s death in custody in August 2019, calling her treatment “a grotesque overreaction”.
Mr Maxwell also dismissed the idea his sister might attempt to flee the US if she were to be released, saying she had built a life there since arriving in 1991. He also pointed to her recent offer to give up her UK and French citizenship and insisting she is “not in the business of running away from anybody”, despite her going into hiding in New Hampshire prior to her arrest on 2 July 2020.
He also suggested his sister’s pre-trial presumption of innocence had been “inverted” by the “fantastic” press coverage her case has attracted, fearing it could prejudice jurors against her.
Mr Maxwell was reluctant to be drawn on his sister’s friendship with Prince Andrew and said he did not know whether the Duke of York might be called as a witness for the defence.
On Epstein himself, he said he had only seen the former couple together once in 30 years and added: “I wish she’d never met the man, obviously. It goes without saying. But you can’t … we don’t live on the same continent, we don’t have the same social life, we don’t have the same friends. I’m not in the business of talking to my sister about her private life.”
Mr Maxwell concluded by arguing that the conditions his sister was enduring in New York could hinder her ability to cooperate with her attorneys.
“I’m worried about her health and her ability to concentrate and mount her defence,” he said.
“But she is resolute. No human being should have to go through what she is being put through. It is really degrading and, in terms of the depravation of sleep, this is not the way that a democratic country should be running its prison system, it’s grotesque and in that respect it amounts to torture so yes I am worried about Ghisaine’s capacity to endure much more of this treatment.”
Mr Maxwell made a similar argument last week in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, in which he said: “To anyone familiar with the British system of law, the American system is simply bizarre, quite frankly, cruel.”
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