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No Suicide Watch, Camera Malfunctions: Epstein’s ‘Apparent Suicide’ Provokes Conspiracy Theories

© Sipa Press/Rex FeaturesJeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein - Sputnik International
The apparent suicide of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein immediately spawned allegations of prison negligence and multiple conspiracy theories, as the details of the case remain blurry.

The Bureau of Prisons said on Saturday that lifesaving measures were “initiated immediately by responding staff,” and Epstein was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Bureau called his death an “apparent suicide,” although an investigation has yet to determine this conclusively. A number of officials told media outlets that Epstein had hanged himself in his cell, however, there was no public confirmation.

Attorney General William Barr later announced a Justice Department probe into Epstein’s death, which he also called an “apparent suicide,” while an FBI investigation has also been opened. Epstein had been held at the New York prison since his arrest last month on child sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. He pled not guilty to the charges, which carried a penalty of up to 45 years in prison. He was found dead in his cell in the special housing unit of New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) on Saturday morning at around 6:30 am EST.

His death raises many questions, as Epstein was rumoured to have been on suicide watch. According to the Bureau of Prisons policy, inmates on suicide watch are to be kept under “direct, continuous observation” in a room that allows “unobstructed vision of the inmate at all times.” Supposedly, Epstein was under supervision after he was found semi-conscious on the floor of his cell two weeks ago with marks on his neck. According to BOP policy, in addition to the constant monitoring, a suicidal inmate’s cell “may not have fixtures or architectural features” that would enable self-harm, such as hooks or bunks that could be used to tie a rope around.

However, Reuters reported on Saturday that Epstein had been taken off suicide watch some time since his first apparent attempt on his own life. Photos of Epstein’s body taken by the New York Post also show Epstein’s body being wheeled into the hospital on a gurney, clad in a standard-issue prison jumpsuit, instead of the paper dress or ‘suicide smock’ usually given to inmates on suicide watch.

Moreover, inmates at MCC are said to be checked-in-on every 30 minutes throughout the night. When guards are away on their patrols, video surveillance usually picks up the slack. However, BOP policy does not mandate video surveillance of either suicide watch or regular cells. A former Al Qaeda prisoner, cited by RT, said that MCC staff monitor high-security cells with two video cameras, one above the shower and another above the toilet or bed. Epstein had been kept in this same extra-security area of the prison, a New York Times source said. The cameras are “placed strategically throughout the institution,” and are “sufficient” to ensure the safety of inmates and staff, according to last year’s BOP audit.

Michael Coudrey, a conservative commentator, suggested in a tweet that at the time of Epstein’s death there was an alleged "camera malfunction," without giving more details on the credibility of the information.

The mystery surrounding Epstein’s death had already led netizens, including notable figures from both sides of the political spectrum, to start a discussion of different conspiracy theories. One of the theories is based on the fact that Epstein's suicide ends the criminal case against him and thus prevents the appearance of other powerful names, including figures in the current administration.

However, in a court filing last month, the government said it was pursuing an "ongoing investigation of uncharged individuals" connected to Epstein, and US Attorney Geoffrey Berman confirmed on Saturday that the investigation will continue despite Epstein’s death. 

Another theory, supported by US President Donald Trump’s retweets, suggested a connection with former President Bill Clinton, and was tweeted by Terrence K. Williams, a conservative commentator and comedian. Williams alleged that for Epstein to die by suicide indicated "somebody not doing their job, or somebody got paid not to do — not to do their job, so somebody can get knocked off, so information don’t come out” and compared it with to the 1994 suicide of White House aide Vince Foster that conspiracy theorists have long blamed on the Clintons.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough wasted no time in bringing up “the Russians,” saying that “a guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men’s lives ends up dead in his jail cell” is “predictably Russian.” However, nobody seemed impressed by the idea, as at no point since Epstein’s arrest has the billionaire financier been tied in any way to Russian figures.

Some of the theorists, however, gave up on finding a rational explanation, instead blaming aliens’ actions – or lack of action.

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