Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers said Thursday that the fake, foreign passport found in his safe was given to him by a friend and had already been used when he got it.
Their claim, in a letter to the judge who will decide if Epstein gets bail, came in response to a prosecution filing that revealed the passport contained stamps from France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia.
Prosecutors have cited the passport—which was issued in Austria but had a Saudi Arabia address, a fake name and Epstein’s photo—as evidence that the accused sex trafficker is a flight risk.
“Epstein was given the passport at issue by a friend,” defense lawyer Marc Fernich wrote.
“Some Jewish-Americans were informally advised at the time to carry identification bearing a non-Jewish name when traveling internationally in case of hijacking.
“He never used the document to travel internationally and never presented it to any immigration or customs authority. The passport stamps, predating his receipt of the document, do not reflect Mr. Epstein’s entries or exits.”
The letter did not disclose who gave the passport to Epstein or why he still had the travel document, which was from the 1980s and had long expired.
Also found in the safe was $70,000 in cash and 48 small diamonds that prosecutors contend are often kept on hand by someone who needs to make a quick getaway.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman is set to decide Thursday afternoon whether Epstein should stay locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center or be put on house arrest at his mansion, which prosecutors have derisively called his “gilded cage.”