Trafficking Charges Against Saudi Princess Dropped

Published: 23 September 2013


A human trafficking case against Saudi princess was dismissed for lack of evidence on Friday, reports The Guardian.

Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested in Southern California on July 9 after a Kenyan maid fled the princess's Orange County home where she was allegedly forced to work 16 hour days for US$220 per month after being contractually guaranteed $1,600 per month.

The 30-year-old maid, who was not identified by name, claimed that her employers took away her passport after arriving in the US. Four Filipina women also worked in the home but were not part of the court action, according to Reuters.

Alayban's attorneys argued that the maid's claims "were a scam to gain permanent resident status in the United States." In a statement the attorneys claimed that Alayban's maids traveled first-class to the United States and had access to cellphones, internet, and cable television all available in their native languages. The statement further alleged that the maids were given free shopping trips to neighborhood malls.

The defense team for Alayban said that photo and video evidence proved that all of the maids enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. "We also discovered that the women had deleted many of the photos and messages they had posted on social media – and asked friends to delete them also – to destroy the evidence of the true lifestyle they were enjoying," Alayban's attorney Paul Meyer said.

Police searched the princess's home after the maid alleged slave-like conditions. "This is not a contract dispute," Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had said in July. "This is holding someone captive against their will."

"My client was a slave to this woman," a prosecuting lawyer firmly asserted.

Alayban would have faced up to 12 years in prison if found guilty. She is the wife of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

Correction: This story originally read that Meshael Alayban was one of Prince Abdulrahman's six wives. Alayban's attorney Paul Meyer has issued a correction; Alayban is the prince's only wife.