Epstein defense offers explanation for foreign passport

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5d2ed988e04bf rawImage

NEW YORK (AP) – Defense attorneys told a court Tuesday that financier Jeffrey Epstein obtained a foreign passport decades ago out of fear that he might be kidnapped in the Middle East, seeking to allay concerns over the apparently phony travel document. Prosecutors have said the passport was under an alias. They have pointed to it and dozens of diamonds hidden in a safe – both discovered following Epstein’s arrest- as a further warning sign that the convicted sex offender would try to flee the country if granted bail on federal sex trafficking charges. But defense attorneys said the passport expired 32 years ago, adding prosecutors have offered no evidence Epstein ever used it. The defense wrote in court papers that Epstein, “as an affluent member of the Jewish faith,” acquired the passport in the 1980s “in connection to Middle East travel.” “The passport was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnapers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur,” they wrote. Prosecutors have said the passport listed a Saudi address and contained a photograph of Epstein and an alias. Authorities are investigating whether the passport is “genuine or fabricated,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a court filing Tuesday. Epstein faces federal charges of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls in the early 2000s. His indictment, unsealed last week, shows conspiracy and sex trafficking charges that could result in up to 45 years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty. Epstein’s defense team wrote that it was not able to meet a Tuesday deadline to provide a breakdown of Epstein’s finances to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman. They described Epstein’s finances as “fairly complex” but said they…

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