The Daily Telegraph

Maxwells hit out at ‘brutal’ treatment of Ghislaine

Brother decries socialite’s imprisonme­nt as ‘disgrace to any civilised democracy’ and calls for her release

- By Robert Mendick CHIEF REPORTER

THE family of Ghislaine Maxwell have broken their silence, insisting she is innocent while labelling the US legal system “bizarre and cruel”.

Ian Maxwell told The Daily Telegraph his sister was being subjected to “brutal and degrading” treatment and called for her release from jail while awaiting trial on child sex-traffickin­g charges.

In an impassione­d defence of his sister, Mr Maxwell, 64, said: “On evidence that can be shown to be false given just a little exploratio­n and digging, Ghislaine has been accused of being a procurer and a heartless woman, and far more besides. In fact, she is none of these things.”

He urged that she be freed from prison. Ms Maxwell, 59, a close friend of the Duke of York, is languishin­g in a detention centre in Brooklyn after being arrested by the FBI last July.

She is due to go on trial later this year for offences relating to her associatio­n with her one-time boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted paedophile, who killed himself in a New York jail in 2019.

Ms Maxwell remains on round-theclock suicide watch, and applicatio­ns for bail, which include a $28.5 million (£20.4million) surety and a pledge to give up both her British and French citizenshi­ps, have so far been denied.

Mr Maxwell described his sister’s treatment as a “disgrace to any civilised democracy”. He said her decision to renounce her citizenshi­ps – in an attempt to persuade US authoritie­s she is not a flight risk – had caused her “immense distress”.

The Maxwell family launched a campaign they called Operation Get Ghislaine Out following her arrest last July at a secluded home in New Hampshire.

She is accused of helping Epstein to groom and abuse girls as young as 14 between 1994 and 1997, when she was in an “intimate relationsh­ip” with him.

She is also charged with perjury in relation to sworn testimony in 2016 that she had not trafficked Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an American who has claimed she was forced to sleep with the Duke of York when she was 17, an allegation vehemently denied by the Duke.

Mr Maxwell said: “To anyone familiar with the British system of law, the American system is simply bizarre, quite frankly, cruel. As you know, my sister is held in the most appalling conditions and subjected to brutal and unusual treatment and yet she is a pretrial detainee. This means she is innocent and she is entitled to the presumptio­n of innocence.

“The sustained brutal, degrading – and wholly unnecessar­y – conditions of my sister’s solitary imprisonme­nt are a disgrace to any civilised democracy.” He said Ms Maxwell was being kept in a cell

‘To anyone familiar with the British system of law, the American system is simply bizarre, quite frankly, cruel’

measuring just 6ft by 9ft that “includes a concrete bed and a toilet”.

He added: “She has 10 cameras trained on her, including one mobile camera, 24/7. Four guards observe her all the time and presumably another is looking at the camera feeds. She is not allowed in the corners of her cell. She is not allowed within 2.5ft of the cell door. These conditions, which Ghislaine has now endured for close on 250 days, are depriving her of her health and, critically, the ability meaningful­ly to prepare her defence. This is simply wrong.”

He said it was “vital for her health and well-being” to get her out of jail, adding she has lost close to 20lb in weight. “Her hair is falling out and she is losing the ability to concentrat­e, which is impairing the time she can devote to studying the two million pages of prosecutio­n documentat­ion,” he said.

Mr Maxwell, one of nine siblings, has been a key figure behind the scenes trying to secure his sister’s release from jail. Along with his brother Kevin, he rose to prominence in the 1990s when charged with – and acquitted of – finan

‘She and we have all put everything at risk to support her and we have managed to pull together $28.5 million [surety] – a huge sum’

cial crimes linked to the collapsed business empire of their father Robert Maxwell, the media tycoon.

Mr Maxwell said: “Ghislaine, we the family, and her friends, have done everything we can to give the court assurance that she will stay in America if she is released on bail.

“She and we have all put everything at risk to support her and we have managed to pull together $28.5million – a huge sum, especially when compared with others who have been released on bail for far lesser sums.”

He said even a private security company that it is proposed would guard her would lose $1 million bond money if she was allowed to flee. Of the offer to give up her citizenshi­ps, Mr Maxwell said: “The British citizenshi­p is bad enough because she was brought up and educated here but to have to sacrifice her French citizenshi­p feels like a total betrayal to our mother, Betty. Naturally the press has focused on my father’s huge presence but to the family my mother was the great power.”

Mr Maxwell said that while their father travelled on business much of the year, Betty was ever present. Ghislaine, the youngest of the children, was born in their aunt’s maternity clinic just outside Paris.

“Against that background you can understand the distress of the great sacrifice Ghislaine is making,” he added.

The public impression of Ghislaine is “entirely wrong”, Mr Maxwell said, insisting “her greatest passion is the environmen­t”. He said she had been instrument­al in “persuading the United Nations to appoint an official to monitor the oceans”.

He made a last plea for his sister to be freed on bail before a trial in the summer. “She is much loved by her family and returns that love with a generosity of spirit that I can only ask you to respect. We are solidly behind her.

“We are convinced she will be acquitted and we just hope and believe that the American justice system must grant her much less onerous conditions of detention and finally, and soon, bail.”

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 ??  ?? Ghislaine Maxwell with brother Ian, father Robert and mother Elizabeth, and, below, with Jeffrey Epstein
Ghislaine Maxwell with brother Ian, father Robert and mother Elizabeth, and, below, with Jeffrey Epstein

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