Saudi princess living in the US charged with human trafficking
Meshael Alayban was arrested in California and charged with allegedly holding a Kenyan maid against her will. She could face up to 12 years in prison
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 11 July 2013
A Saudi princess living in the US has been charged with human trafficking for allegedly holding a Kenyan maid against her will and forcing her to work long hours for minimal pay.
Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested in Irvine, California, on Wednesday after a woman with a suitcase boarded a bus and told another passenger she was a victim of trafficking.
The 30-year-old victim, who has not been named, told police she was hired in Kenya in March last year and went to Saudi Arabia. Upon her arrival in the kingdom, her passport was taken away. In May this year, she travelled to the US with the family and four other domestic workers from the Philippines.
In California, she worked for several members of the Alayban family in four luxury apartments, and was not permitted to leave the complex without someone accompanying her. According to prosecutors, she was made to work 16 hours a day for seven days a week, for a little over $200 (£130) a month. When she complained about her treatment and asked to be given her passport, Ms Alayban allegedly refused.
Ms Alayban, who is one of the wives of Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud – a member of the Saudi royal family – was ordered by a judge to wear a tracking device to prevent her from leaving the country.
The Saudi consulate in Los Angeles reportedly agreed to pay her $5m bail. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in prison.
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