Ghislaine Maxwell has been "physically abused" by prison guards, is losing her hair and is "withering to a shell of her former self", her lawyer has claimed in a letter to a New York judge.
The 59-year-old former partner of billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein is awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges, but her lawyers are asking for her to be released on bail citing intolerable jail conditions.
"Recently, out of view of the security camera, Ms Maxwell was placed in her isolation cell and physically abused during a pat down search," wrote Bobbi Sternheim.
"When Ms Maxwell recoiled in pain and when she said she would report the mistreatment, she was threatened with disciplinary action," she added.
A week later the same team of guards "ordered" Maxwell into a shower "to clean, sanitise, and scrub the walls with a broom", the lawyer claimed.
"She is withering to a shell of her former self – losing weight, losing hair, and losing her ability to concentrate," Sternheim wrote, in the letter addressed to New York judge Alison Nathan.
There have been repeated attempts to get Maxwell released on bail, with most revolving around claims of mistreatment at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn.
Judge Nathan most recently denied bail in December, deeming Maxwell a flight risk.
But her lawyers say she is subjected to excessive surveillance, including having a torch pointed at her cell every 15 minutes from 9.30pm to 6.30am.
"Having been incarcerated in de facto solitary confinement for 225 days and monitored by two to six guards 24 hours a day with a handheld camera dedicated to capturing her every move, except when it would record improper conduct on the part of the guards, it is not surprising that Ms Maxwell feels she is detained under the control of the Bureau of 'Pretrial Punishment'," the letter states.
Prosecutors are keen to bring her to trial in the summer, and do not want her to flee or take her own life, as Epstein did while in prison in 2019.
The federal Bureau of Prisons has not responded to the latest claims, but in December they defended Maxwell's jail conditions, saying she received three meals a day, could use the recreational areas and had more than eight hours of call time each month.