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Thu 11 Jul 2013 09:14 AM

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Saudi princess faces slavery charges in US

Meshael Alayban accused of bringing Kenyan maid to US and holding her against her will

Saudi princess faces slavery charges in US
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

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.

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Linda JOhns 7 years ago

I can't understand what do the Saudi people think themselves to slave people, as I worked in SA and I've seen by myself what do they do with Asians, Africans and even Arabs, Why the human rights watch has been keeping blind eyes and deaf ears about these things!! Is it because the royal family in SA has been following the USA government!!!

procan 7 years ago

No worrys Linda there day is coming.

Ali 7 years ago

The maid is just being opportunistic. She has probably forgotten 200$ is probably the equivalent of a years wage in her country. I hope the US authorities come to their senses and release the Princess otherwise Saudi Arabia will retaliate.
I live in the US and there are plenty of Mexicans in similar "slave" conditions but no one ever says anything about them, they are just trying to humiliate her because she is a Muslim and a Royal.

John Thomas 7 years ago

@ Ali; seriously; are you living in the 1500's?? whether she is a princess (sort of) or the Pope she has to follow the law (and human decency!!); if she wants to enslave someone than she should go back to the 14th century!. It simply appalls me that you would make a comment as such and please stop using the "Muslim" card; it does not work; and royal??? ("one of the wives"???) - laws apply to ALL regardless of Religion or belief; anyone who treats another human being as she did should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. How would you like to be told that you will be making $1200 and than you get paid $200?? for "24 hrs" of work every day?? How would you take it?? Nationality has nothing to do with it; I would rescind your comment if i were you and apologize! Shame on you!!!

expat 7 years ago

Ali, regardless of what a years wages in the Kenya, she was promised $1200/m. Your argument is hollow but expected logic from someone like you.

Your threat that SA will retaliate, what a sophomoric statement.

saeed 7 years ago

hello john boy

didn't the US had lawful slavery couples of decades ago?

we all know what they did to the native Americans
i lived in alabama and came to know first hand how the blacks are treated in general

what about illegal occupations of oil and mineral rich countries by US/Nato etc

isnt OB dead already?

did we forget Europe's years of colonization, and killings of millions - the affects of which are still being felt

yes - if the woman is accused of a crime let her get proper punishment.

but putting a 5m bail tells another story

Ponder 7 years ago

The US didnt have lawful slavery or any slavery a couple of decades ago or even a century ago.

And after that poorly thought statement I wont bother to respond the othey subjective & selective facts you bring forth which have nothing to do with the facts of this case & 2 wrongs dont make a right.

Mohammed 7 years ago

You guys seem to be conveniently forgetting one thing. Why would someone offer $1200 to someone who will jump at the opportunity to work for $200, being from a country where they earn nothing. But maybe I'm wrong and you guys were witness when the contracts were signed.

tony 7 years ago

Saeed, are you saying there were no slaves in the Islamic empires? Or what do you think they did when they occupied other countries? How exactly do you think Islam spread in Iran? With hugs and kisses?

Abdullah 7 years ago

@procan color me a profiler or maybe you are just making it too easy with all your comments. Your hate reflects your story, which is that you have lived in the region for a few years. You decided to live beyond your means while your paygrade did not allow the highlife you were living. When the debt piled up you booked the cheapest possible flight and ran back to the icebox. We're very sorry as it is obviously our fault since we allowed you to get yourself in such trouble. Understandable you now hate us ;)