A woman described by US authorities as a Saudi Arabian princess has been charged with human trafficking after allegedly forcing another female to unwillingly work as her servant.
Forty two-year old Meshael Alayban was arrested by police in Orange County, California, and taken into custody on Wednesday. Prosecutors accuse Alayban of forcing the Kenyan national to work for 16 hours per day, seven days per week, for just $220 per month. The victim is said to have been unable to flee as Alayban had confiscated her passport, the UK's Guardian reported.
Prosecutors have identified Alayban as one of the wives of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The case came to light after the woman left Alayban’s home on Tuesday to board a bus, before she contacted police.
"The law of our nation and California does not tolerate people who deprive or violate the liberty of another and obtain forced labour or services,” said District Attorney Tony Rackuackas, as he charged Alayban with one felony count of human trafficking. "If any person is being enslaved, he or she should contact law enforcement," he told the paper.
Police offers said that four other women, from the Philippines, had been discovered being held under similar circumstances at Alayban’s premises, although no charges have yet to be filed in relation to these yet.
The unnamed Kenyan woman is said to have begun working for Alayban and her family in March 2012, when they still lived in Saudi Arabia. She had initially been contacted through an agency in Kenya and was promised a salary of $1,600 per month on a contract of two years, with standard working hours.
She accompanied Alayban to the US in May and claimed that she had only been paid a fraction of the agreed salary. When she complained about working conditions and requested her passport be returned, Alayban allegedly refused to give it back.
Prosecutors asked that Alayban be denied bail as she was deemed as a flight risk, but a judge ordered she be held in lieu of $5m bail. She has also been ordered to surrender her passport not travel outside of the Orange County area.