Meshael Alayban, Saudi Princess from Maid Slave Case, Has Truth on Her Side: Lawyer
See Update No. 7 on Page 3 about a hearing on Meshael Alayban's GPS monitoring device and her attorney saying the truth will set her free. Update Nos. 5-6 at the bottom of Page 2 are about the Saudi Arabian princess making her $5 million bail and being freed. Update Nos. 3-4 on Page 2 are about her arraignment being delayed, her relationship to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, her attorney's claim she is being set up, and the charges, possible punishments and movement restrictions she faces. Update Nos. 1-2 on the next page detail her bail being set at $5 million despite prosecutors seeking no bail.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 10, 12:58 P.M.: A 30-year-old Kenyan who flagged down a passing bus in Irvine and was assisted by a female passenger later ratted out a Saudi Arabian national who allegedly kept the distressed newcomer as a domestic slave.
Meshael Alayban, 42, was arrested Tuesday night at her condominium on Gramercy in Irvine on suspicion of human trafficking and held on $1 million bail. Jail records list Alayban's occupation as "princess."
The sad tale is related in a statement sent this morning from Irvine Police Lt. Julia Engen, the department spokesman. The woman was contracted through an agency in her home country of Kenya in March 2012 to work as a housekeeper with Alayban's family in Saudi Arabia. But once the unidentified worker arrived in the Middle East country, Alayban allegedly took her passport and employment contract.
The Kenyan would go on to work excessive hours and at a pay less than specified in the contract. But when she complained about her working conditions and asked for her passport back, Alayban is accused of refusing to comply.
This past May, Alayban and her family traveled to the U.S. with the Kenyan and four filipinas who'd been contracted as workers in a similar fashion. They all wound up in the Irvine condo until the Kenyan--carrying a suitcase and a pamphlet she picked up at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia--flagged down that bus. The flier specified her rights and warned against becoming a victim of human trafficking.
The bus passenger helped the woman contact Irvine Police, who working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched an investigation, according to Engen's statement. While Irvine detectives and HSI special agents executed a search warrant at the Gramercy condo, they discovered Alayban allegedly took away the travel documents from the women from the Philippines as well, Engen said. Detectives are working to recover the documents believed to be in a safe deposit box at a local bank.
All five women left with detectives voluntarily and each of their cases will be investigated, vowed Engen, who added they were found in good health, showed no signs of physical abuse and were being assisted with finding housing at a shelter. In the meantime, police are awaiting charges against Alayban coming from the Orange County District Attorney's office, possibly by later this afternoon.
Meshael Alayban booking photo
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 10, 2:33 P.M.: Representatives of the Orange County District Attorney's office are arguing at a bail hearing right now that Meshael Alayban should be held without bail because she allegedly poses a flight risk.
More is expected to be revealed at a media briefing shortly.
UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 10, 3:55 P.M.: Bail was set at $5 million this afternoon for Meshael Alayban, who was also ordered to wear a GPS tracking device to the bail-setting hearing. She is to return to Santa Ana court for arraignment Thursday.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who appeared in court for the prosecution, told reporters that he wanted to let victims of "indentured servitude" know they will have support if they seek help from law enforcement, according to City News Service.
Some victims from foreign countries brought to the country as slaves may not realize it is illegal, explained Rackauckas, adding, "I would like it to be known we intend to enforce that law."
He confirmed Alayban is a Saudi Arabian princess.
There are about 5,000 princes and princesses in the Middle Eastern country.
More charges may be coming if it is determined the women from the Philippines were also victims of human trafficking, the DA noted.