Ghislaine Maxwell: Brother accuses New York prison officers of 'physically abusing' sister as she awaits trial

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The brother of Ghislaine Maxwell has told Sky News he believes prison officers have "physically abused" his sister and her treatment in a New York jail is a "fundamental abuse of human rights" that is "designed to break her".

In his first UK TV interview, Ian Maxwell said US authorities have mounted a "disinformation campaign" against her.

He also raised concerns over whether she would receive a fair trial.

The British socialite and former girlfriend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein is awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking, which she denies. She is accused of procuring teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.

In April, Ms Maxwell's lawyers released an image which appeared to show her with a black eye.

"I don't see Ghislaine administering a black eye to herself," Mr Maxwell said. "I think she has suffered some occasional physical abuse at the hands of her guards. Yes."

Mr Maxwell also suggested his family would mount a legal challenge under human rights legislation.

"We are going to take it to the UN," he said. "Take it from me. America has to be held to account, and it will be."

A spokesperson for the US Federal Bureau of Prisons said: "We are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all inmates in our population, our staff, and the public.

"The BOP takes allegations of staff misconduct seriously and consistent with national policy, refers all allegations for investigation, if warranted."

Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender, took his own life in jail in 2019. He was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Mr Maxwell believes Epstein's death was a failure of the US judicial system, and his sister is now being blamed.

He said: "There has just simply been a transference of presumed guilt on the part of Jeffrey Epstein without any corroborating evidence. Just simply because she had a relationship.

"He then dies, and they've got to find someone to pay the price."

Mr Maxwell believes the US authorities are responsible for a "disinformation campaign" against his sister.

"We start with a press conference designed to be prejudicial," he said. "And then we have for the last two or three years a whole plethora of news programmes, documentaries and so forth, which are entirely one-sided.

"There isn't any possible other way of viewing this, other than the way the accusers have set it up, and their attorneys, and that strikes me as a campaign designed to prejudice my sister in the eyes of the public."

The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

Ghislaine Maxwell's lawyers have previously claimed their client has lost hair and over 15 pounds in body weight during her incarceration.

Mr Maxwell believes his sister's treatment in prison has made it more difficult to prepare her defence, and questioned how Harvey Weinstein, Derek Chauvin and Bernie Madoff could all be granted bail pre-trial, yet his sister's applications be repeatedly denied.

"It's designed to break her," he said. "That is just unjust. It is a fundamental abuse of human rights. And I find that quite shocking."

"And I think that your viewers, if they are honest, should also find it shocking. Imagine if it was their mother or their sister or their daughter in the same position as my sister. You don't think you'd kick up a hell of a fuss about it?"

A US federal judge has repeatedly ruled Ghislaine Maxwell poses a flight risk. Prosecutors cited her citizenship in three countries and significant wealth as factors as why bail should be refused.

With one month until Ghislaine Maxwell's trial, her brother believes her reputation has been "comprehensively trashed" and is concerned she may not receive a fair trial.

"In the court of public opinion.... it seems to me that Ghislaine has already been convicted and the punishment that she is having meted out to her in prison as a pre-trial detainee is precisely what it is. Punishment prior to conviction.

"You are innocent unless and until you are proven guilty.

"But the mountain of allegations made against it and broadcasted and loud hailered around the world is so great, that I have to really ask myself, are we going to get a fair trial?"

Mr Maxwell said he has not spoken to his sister since her arrest, and he would be "shocked" if she was found guilty, but said she would likely appeal.

Jill Greenfield, a lawyer who represents some of Epstein's alleged victims in the UK, said she had confidence in the US legal system and the trial was a vital opportunity for Ms Maxwell's accusers.

"I think any alleged victim of a sexual assault will very painfully recount their memories of what happened to them.

"But by doing so they speak openly about something where they were, as they see themselves, a victim.

"And I think that can be quite cathartic for that alleged victim and [an] important part of the process to recovery.

"Standing up to an accuser in any sense is a really hard thing for someone to do and to be given and enabled to do that, through a court process, is really important."

Ghislaine Maxwell is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Her trial is due to begin on 29 November.

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