Jeffrey Epstein, the financier recently charged with crimes related to sex trafficking, had a foreign passport that was linked to an address in Saudi Arabia in order to protect him from “potential kidnappers, hijackers, or terrorists,” his lawyers wrote in new court documents filed on Tuesday.
In court papers filed in conjunction with his bail request, Epstein’s lawyers say a foreign passport discovered by federal agents during a raid on his Manhattan mansion was from Austria and “expired 32 years ago.”
They argued that the passport was only used “for personal protection.”
“Epstein – an affluent member of the Jewish faith — acquired the passport in the 1980s, when hijackings were prevalent, in connection to Middle East travel,” they wrote. “The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnappers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur.”
“The government offers nothing to suggest — and certainly no evidence — that Epstein ever used it,” his lawyers argued.
Federal prosecutors discussed the passport at a bail hearing on Monday, which was found in a locked safe in Epstein’s home along with over $70,000 in cash and loose diamonds, court papers revealed. The passport was reportedly issued in the 1980s and appeared to have a photo of Epstein but was under a different name. His residence was listed in Saudi Arabia.
Prosecutors said the discovery of the passport suggests that Epstein posed a flight risk and should remain in jail, according to NBC News. They added that the other objects found in the safe supported the notion that Epstein was prepared “to leave the jurisdiction at a moment’s notice.”
In a letter to the judge filed on Tuesday, prosecutors followed up on that claim writing, “The Government is attempting to obtain additional information about the Foreign Passport, including how it was obtained and whether the passport is genuine or fabricated.”
“But the defendant’s possession of what purports to be a foreign passport issued under an alias gives rise to the inference the defendant knows how to obtain false travel documents and/or assume other, foreign identities,” they continued. “This adds to the serious risk of flight posed by the defendant.”
It is unclear how Epstein obtained the foreign passport and whether it is legitimate.
Epstein was charged with sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. The indictment against Epstein, unsealed last week, alleges that between 2002 and 2005 “Epstein sexually exploited and abused dozens of underage girls” and convinced others to engage in sex acts for money.
Epstein previously cut a deal with the US Attorney’s Office in Miami in 2008 to avoid federal charges, pleading guilty to state prostitution charges and registering as a sex offender. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison but only served 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach County Jail where he was allowed to work in an office six days per week.
The billionaire financier is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to 45 years in federal prison.
Epstein’s legal team has asked the court to allow him to surrender his current passport and live under house arrest, Reuters said. US District Judge Richard Berman, who is presiding over Epstein’s case, is set to respond to Epstein’s bail request on Thursday.
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