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Epstein ex-lover Maxwell 'losing hair and weight under punitive jail conditions'


Ghislaine Maxwell. Photo: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell. Photo: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Ghislaine Maxwell. Photo: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

A lawyer for Ghislaine Maxwell, the one-time girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, has said her client has lost weight and hair as she suffers under harsh prison conditions imposed in part because Epstein killed himself last year in a US federal lock-up.

Bobbi Sternheim made the claims on Ms Maxwell's behalf after lawyers for the Metropolitan Detention Centre warden in Brooklyn defended conditions at the facility in a letter.

"Ms Maxwell remains in good health," the lawyers wrote, as they defended her treatment as by-the-book following of rules to ensure the safety of all inmates.

The letters were filed on the same day a November 25 letter was unsealed in which two of Ms Maxwell's lawyers said they were renewing her application to be released on bail after compiling information not available when her initial request was rejected in July.

Judge Alison J Nathan said she would decide later this month whether to conduct a hearing.

Ms Maxwell (58) has been held since her July arrest on charges that she procured teenage girls for Epstein to abuse in the mid-1990s.

The British socialite has pleaded not guilty and is preparing for a trial next July.

Seeking bail, lawyers Mark S Cohen and Christian Everdell wrote they have assembled a "comprehensive bail package" including financial information and letters from family members and close friends who have agreed to support Ms Maxwell but want to keep their identities secret.

"They are legitimately afraid that if their identities become public, they will be subjected to the same relentless media scrutiny and threats that Ms Maxwell has experienced for more than a year," they wrote.

In her letter, Ms Sternheim wrote that Ms Maxwell was being treated harshly in part because the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) wants to repair its reputation after failing to prevent the August 2019 suicide of Epstein in a Manhattan federal prison as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges.

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She cited recent comments Attorney General William Barr made when he said he was keeping a close watch to make sure Ms Maxwell makes it to trial after Epstein's death.

"It is obvious that Ms Maxwell is bearing the brunt of BOP incompetence," Ms Sternheim wrote.

"The Department of Justice is seeking to repair the BOP's tarnished reputation by placing Ms Maxwell under extraordinarily harsh conditions, not in any response to Ms Maxwell's requirements, but rather in response to the failed handling of a completely different inmate."

Ms Sternheim said her client has lost hair and more than a stone (6.8kg) while in detention. She also maintained Ms Maxwell has not been properly protected from an outbreak of the coronavirus, subjected to repeated unnecessary searches, awakened by flashlight-laden guards throughout the night when she sleeps, had her legal emails erased, and has not always received the vegetarian diet she has requested.

"The conditions under which she is detained are punitive, unwarranted, deleteriously impacting her ability to prepare her defence, and interfering with counsel's ability to provide the legal representation to which she, and any other detainee, deserves," Ms Sternheim said.

Prison lawyers wrote Ms Maxwell's weight has not fluctuated more than 2lb (0.9kg) from her current weight of 134lb (60.7kg).

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