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Epstein death triggers conspiracy theories

August 11, 2019

The apparent suicide of disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein has fueled much speculation online. US President Donald Trump is among those to get on the conspiracy-theory bandwagon.

Protesters holding up pictures of Epstein and Trump
Image: picture-alliance/newscom/J. Angelillo

Speculation surrounding Saturday's death of convicted sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in an apparent suicide in a US federal prison was rife on Sunday, with Epstein's ties to famous and powerful people fueling a number of conspiracy theories.

Epstein, whose circle of friends and acquaintances included US President Donald Trump, ex-US President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew, died on Saturday while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month.

Unfounded accusations

One unsubstantiated claim from comedian Terrence Williams about Clinton being linked to Epstein's mysterious death was even retweeted by Trump.

Trump, who himself may face questions about his relationship with Epstein amid an ongoing investigation, also shared a tweet from an unverified account claiming that "top Democrats, including Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein's 'pedophilia island.'"

Clinton, although he did travel several times on Epstein's plane, never visited Little St. James, the Caribbean island where Epstein and others who he was acquainted with are alleged to have indulged in sexual activities with minors.

Trump has acknowledged knowing Epstein but said he "had a falling out with him a long time ago."

Read more: British royal house denies sex claims against Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew
Buckingham Palace has in the past denied allegations that Prince Andrew may have participated in illegal activitiesImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Swen Pförtner

'Convenient' death

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has joined the ranks of those noting that Epstein's death may have relieved some people, telling reporters in the state of Iowa that the death was "way too convenient."

"What a lot of us want to know is, what did he know" de Blasio said. "How many other millionaires and billionaires were part of the illegal activities that he was engaged in?"

Earlier, he tweeted that those complicit in Epstein's crimes should not think that his death meant they would not be found out.

Continuing probes

Officials from the FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general's office have said they will investigate Epstein's apparent suicide Saturday, while continuing the probe into the allegations against him despite his death.

Previous to the ongoing investigation of sexual abuse allegations, Epstein had served a 13-month sentence in Florida after a plea deal in 2008 on charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. He avoided more serious federal charges.

It was investigative reporting on that deal by The Miami Herald that led to the probe on Epstein being reopened by federal prosecutors.

Epstein's death came a day after a cache of documents was published with comprensive details of his alleged abuse of young women at his properties, including on the island of Little St. James, between 2002 and 2005.

tj/amp (AP, dpa)

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