A journalist who was offered a massage at Jeffrey Epstein's mansion suspected the billionaire financier was running a "honey trap" blackmail scheme on behalf of intelligence agencies.
Eric Margolis, an award-winning foreign correspondent and former contributing editor to the Toronto Sun, recalled attending a party at Epstein's New York mansion in the late 1990s.
"The oddest thing for me, soon after we had arrived one of his people came up to me and said, 'Would you like a massage?'" Margolis told Sky News on Sunday night.
"I was extremely taken aback by this, this was highly unusual and certainly not what you do in the early evening in Manhattan. It made me, as an old Moscow journalist, it immediately put up my antenna and the world 'honey trap' came into my mind."
A honey trap involves young women luring powerful men into compromising situations and secretly recording them for the purposes of blackmail. "All the major intelligence services use this technique," Margolis said.
"The Americans have used it extensively, the Russians were notorious for doing it, in Moscow they had these special ladies whose names were 'Swallows' after birds, that were good at enticing people. They even came and tried to entice me. I said, 'Sure, take photos, give me copies for my friends.'"
Alex Acosta, the former US attorney in Miami who helped cut Epstein a shockingly lenient plea deal for child sex offences in 2007 that saw him serve only 13 months behind bars, reportedly had "been told" that "Epstein 'belonged to intelligence'".
The 66-year-old Epstein was arrested again in July this year on sex trafficking charges but was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10 in an apparent suicide, sparking widespread outrage and disbelief.
Lawyers for Epstein have sensationally claimed their client may have been murdered, challenging the official coroner's ruling that he died by suicide.
Lawyer Reid Weingarten told US District Court Judge Richard Berman late last month the injuries — outlined by the defence's own medical sources — were "far more consistent with assault" than suicide, CNBC reported.
That came after two sources "familiar with the findings" told The Washington Post an autopsy found Epstein suffered multiple breaks in his neck bones. One of the broken bones was the hyoid bone, located near the Adam's apple in males, which was "more common in victims of homicide by strangulation".
Margolis told Sky News that "as an old war horse in these matters, I don't believe for a moment that he committed suicide".
"I think it's extremely difficult to do that from a prison bunk to hang yourself," he said.
"He may have broken his neck but I think it's more likely he was killed. Initial reports were they heard screaming in there. He was a man who knew too much, and the old pirate line of 'dead men tell no tales' certainly applied to Epstein."