Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother Ian alleges ‘degrading’ jail conditions


Ghislaine Maxwell‘s brother has claimed that the alleged Jeffrey Epstein accomplice is being held in US jail conditions that are ‘degrading’ and ‘amount to torture’. 

Ian Maxwell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that his sister was losing her hair and struggling with her eyesight as she awaits her trial which is due to start in July. 

The 59-year-old socialite has been in custody since last July when she was charged with helping Epstein to groom underage girls, which she denies.   

Her brother said she ‘remained resolute’ but was being served ‘brown’ water, ‘inedible’ food and monitored around the clock in ‘grotesque’ conditions in Brooklyn which he said were ‘not the way that a democratic country’ should run its prisons.

A US judge has twice denied bail to Maxwell, saying she ‘plainly poses a risk of flight’ – but her brother insisted she would not seek to flee if her third bail application is successful.  

He also did not rule out that Prince Andrew could be called to speak in her defence, saying he ‘assumes’ that Maxwell still considers the Duke of York as a friend. 

Ghislaine Maxwell (a sketch of her video link court appearance last year)  faces child sex trafficking charges over allegedly recruiting three teenage girls as young as 14 for paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse in the 1990s

Giving a rare interview, Ian Maxwell claimed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that his sister Ghislaine was being held in 'degrading' conditions in a US jail

Giving a rare interview, Ian Maxwell claimed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that his sister Ghislaine was being held in ‘degrading’ conditions in a US jail 

Maxwell is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (pictured), and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted

Maxwell is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (pictured), and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted

‘Hell-hole’ Brooklyn jail compared to a ‘third-world’ prison 

The Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where Ghislaine Maxwell is being held has been described as a ‘hell hole’ by a former warden and compared to a ‘third-world’ country by a US judge.  

Cameron Lindsay, a former warden at the MDC, described life in the jail as ‘a crushing experience’, especially for someone who is used to the high life.

‘You go from living a life like Maxwell to all of a sudden being… strip-searched and having people look into your body cavities,’ he said.

A New York judge once said she avoids sending women to the prison because the conditions are similar to ‘some third-world country’.

The Brooklyn detention center where Maxwell is being held

The Brooklyn detention center where Maxwell is being held  

The prison with a capacity of 1,600 men and women has had its share of famous residents, including singer R Kelly and ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli. 

But it has had more than its share of problems as well.

In 2001, following the 9/11 attacks on New York, investigators found that guards had been carrying out a campaign of harassment against Muslim prisoners who were slammed face-first into walls and told they would ‘die’.

A probe was also carried out into guards accused of beating two inmates between 2002 and 2006. 

In 2018, two former lieutenants and a guard were jailed for repeated rapes and sexual assaults on female inmates – who make up about three per cent of inmates.

One woman, a Dominican prisoner in jail on a drugs charge, recalled being raped at least four times over five months while on night cleaning duty.

More recently, an electrical panel exploded after weeks of malfunctioning- plunging the jail into darkness and cutting off the heat.

Inmates told the New York Times that they were left locked in their cells for 23 hours a day in almost-total darkness without heat after the problem first started.

Mr Maxwell said his sister had offered in her latest bail application to renounce her French and UK citizenships, which she said was ‘no easy thing’ for her. 

Prosecutors had argued that Maxwell, who also has US citizenship, might flee to Britain or France and evade extradition if she was released. 

They also pointed to Maxwell’s vast wealth – but her brother said she was willing to put her money under the supervision of US authorities if it helped secure bail. 

‘Had she wanted to run away, she could have run away at any point in the year after Epstein died,’ Mr Maxwell said. ‘But she remained permanently in the United States. 

‘This isn’t somebody who’s seeking to flee. She has attachments here, she has family here, she has an entire life built by her for 30 years here.’  

Her lawyers had offered $22.5million in bail posted by the defendant and her husband, but the judge rejected the second bail package in December. 

‘No conditions of release can reasonably assure the Defendant’s appearance at future proceedings,’ federal judge Alison Nathan wrote.  

‘Ghislaine has been in prison now for nearly 250 days and counting. She is in effective isolation in a cell that measures 6ft by 9ft and which includes a concrete bed and a toilet,’ Mr Maxwell said. 

‘There is no natural light. She is under 24-hour, round-the-clock surveillance with ten cameras including one that moves and tracks her movements. That is her existence.

‘The water that is provided through the prison is brown and the food that she’s given is very highly microwaved and basically inedible. 

‘She is resolute, she’s strong in her spirit and undaunted, but obviously this is very, very wearing physically. 

‘She’s a 59-year-old woman and we understand that she’s losing her hair, and she’s also having trouble with her eyesight and her ability to concentrate because this is a tremendous pressure to be under.’

Asked whether the conditions were not necessary to prevent her from harming herself – like Epstein – Mr Maxwell said his sister ‘has never been a suicide risk’. 

‘There are daily evaluations of her, she has shown no indication that that is her intention. She is being completely overmanaged,’ he said.  

But he added: ‘I’m worried about her health and her ability to concentrate and to mount her defence. No human being should have to go through what she’s been through.

‘It is really degrading, and in terms of the deprivation of sleep, this is not the way that a democratic country should be running its prison system, it’s grotesque and in that respect it amounts to torture.’

Mr Maxwell also slammed prosecutors for allegedly failing to hand over details of the three accusers who are the subject of the case. 

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and groom underage girls for sex in the mid-1990s, and not guilty to perjury for denying involvement. 

She also faces civil litigation from Epstein accusers, 20 of whom are represented by lawyer Gloria Allred. 

Ian Maxwell (right) with Ghislaine Maxwell (second left) and their father, the late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell (second right) and his wife Elizabeth (left) in 1990

Ian Maxwell (right) with Ghislaine Maxwell (second left) and their father, the late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell (second right) and his wife Elizabeth (left) in 1990 

US prosecutor Audrey Strauss points to a picture of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell as charges are announced against the socialite last year

US prosecutor Audrey Strauss points to a picture of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell as charges are announced against the socialite last year  

Also speaking to Radio 4 on Wednesday, Allred rejected Maxwell’s complaints, saying it would be ‘very upsetting to the victims’ if she was bailed. 

‘A cell is not a palace, a cell is not a wealthy estate with all the amenities in it,’ she said, adding that bail ‘should be out of the question’.  

‘The court has determined… that she is a flight risk and that is a main reason why bail was denied. 

‘I am not convinced at this point that anything has changed, that she is no longer a flight risk, and I think she needs to stay where she is in custody. 

‘She can prepare for trial there, she can meet with her attorneys, and I understand that she has access to information that she can read in order to be prepared for trial.’ 

Asked whether he wished he had intervened to end his sister’s relationship with Epstein, Mr Maxwell said: ‘I wish she’d never met the man, obviously.  

‘But we don’t live on the same continent, we don’t have the same social life, we don’t have the same friends. I’m not in the business of talking to my sister about her private life.’    

Questioned about whether Prince Andrew could be called as a defence witness, Mr Maxwell said: ‘I can’t answer that, I just don’t know’. 

But asked if she still considers Andrew a friend, he said: ‘I don’t know. I would assume that she does, yes’.  

Andrew acknowledged in his disastrous BBC interview in 2019 that he consorted with Maxwell and Epstein over a number of years until Epstein’s conviction in 2008. 

Ian Maxwell did not rule out that Prince Andrew, pictured during his disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight in 2019, could be called to give evidence in Ghislaine Maxwell's defence

Ian Maxwell did not rule out that Prince Andrew, pictured during his disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight in 2019, could be called to give evidence in Ghislaine Maxwell’s defence 

The Duke of York has also faced scrutiny over a notorious picture showing him with Maxwell and Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts. 

Mr Maxwell said he recognised the ‘setting’ of the photo, which Andrew said he could not remember being taken and suggested might have been faked.  

After Epstein was released from jail, Andrew again went to see him in New York in 2010 what he now claims was a visit intended to end their relationship.  

In 2019, Epstein was arrested on new sex-trafficking charges and killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August that year while awaiting trial. 

Maxwell subsequently went to ground and her whereabouts were a mystery for nearly a year after Epstein’s death until she was arrested in New Hampshire last July. 

She is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.    

Ghislaine and Ian Maxwell are two of the nine children of the late British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, who died at sea in 1991. 

Ian Maxwell and another brother, Robert, were later accused of fraud relating to the collapse of the Maxwell empire, but were found not guilty. 



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