Billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein had a good reason for possessing a fake passport, his lawyers argued in a court filing Tuesday. The attorneys said the doctored Austrian passport—cited by prosecutors as a reason why the 66-year-old should be considered a flight risk—was acquired by Epstein to protect himself from terrorists in the 1980s, NBC reports. The passport, which expired 32 years ago, "was for personal protection in the event of travel to dangerous areas, only to be presented to potential kidnappers, hijackers or terrorists should violent episodes occur," the attorneys wrote. The passport found in Epstein's home safe had his photo, but a different name. It listed an address in Saudi Arabia. Epstein's attorneys want him to be released from jail and allowed to live in his Manhattan home while awaiting trial on conspiracy and sex trafficking of minors.
"Epstein—an affluent member of the Jewish faith—acquired the passport in the 1980s, when hijackings were prevalent, in connection to Middle East travel," his attorneys wrote. Prosecutors, however, argue that Epstein's possession of the passport "gives rise to the inference that the defendant knows how to obtain false travel documents," Bloomberg reports. They also say the dozens of loose diamonds and more than $70,000 found in the safe at his Manhattan home are "consistent with the capability to leave the jurisdiction at a moment's notice." His lawyers say wealthy individuals should not be disqualified from bail "on the basis of their net worth." US District Judge Richard Berman is expected to issue a ruling in the case Thursday morning. (Prosecutors say the financier has paid off potential witnesses, and would continue doing so if he was freed on bail.)