USA prosecutors want to interview Prince Andrew in Jeffrey Epstein probe

Prince Andrew

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A person familiar with the subject claimed that the New York Federal Prosecutors made a formal request, through MLAT, to speak with Prince Andrew relative to the criminal investigation on Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse history, NBC News reported.

The woman, Virginia Giuffre, alleges she was trafficked under-age to have sex with friends of Epstein, who was 66 when he killed himself in a NY jail in August past year.

"The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the US Department of Justice (DoJ)", the prince's legal team said in a Monday statement.

Federal prosecutors in the United States had reportedly requested to speak to Britain's Prince Andrew through Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or MLAT in line with their investigation on Jeffrey Epstein's case.

The hard-hitting statement also said the US Department of Justice breached its own rules on confidentiality - and claims they are supposed to be followed in order to encourage witnesses to co-operate.

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Despite his supposed enthusiasm to help, Andrew's lawyers said the MLA request was "disappointing" since he is "not a target" of the investigation and has offered his assistance as a witness.

The woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has claimed Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001, when she was 17.

Last month, ex-federal prosecutor Evan T Barr told a USA law journal: "While the Prince would retain the right to decline to testify under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the impact on his already diminished reputation would be considerable and an adverse inference could be drawn against him in the related civil litigations, leading to a possible default judgment". However the idea that Prince Andrew could effectively be swapped for Sacoolas has been mentioned on several occasions by legal teams.

In his interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme in November 2019, the duke said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, despite the financier having been convicted of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution in 2008.

The firm issued the unusual statement after reports in Britain's Sun newspaper and on NBC that us officials formally requested that Andrew answer questions on the matter.

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A U.S. lawyer said in March that the Duke of York has "completely shut the door" over co-operating with investigators over the probe.

He also said after he appeared on BBC that he was "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required".

Prince Andrew's lawyers have now hit back saying: "These statements were inaccurate, and they should not have been made".

The lawyers said the DOJ had only requested Andrew's help on January 2 and had stated that he had never been a target of their investigation and they merely wanted his cooperation.

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