Royal Scandal: Saudi Princess Arrested on Counts of Human Trafficking

Kenyan woman claims abuse of labor

Meshael Alayban

Meshael Alayban, a 42-year-old Saudi princess, has been arrested in California on charges of human trafficking after she allegedly held a Kenyan woman captive against her will after employing her. The victim (30, still unnamed) initially signed a two-year-contract that stated she would work eight hours a day, five days a week, $1,600 a month. But starting March 2012, she says, her passport was taken away, and her hours changed to 16 a day, seven days a week, with a $220 monthly check.

According to an Al-Jazeera report, Alayban was arrested shortly after the Kenyan woman flagged down a bus with a suitcase in hand, and explained the cruel conditions to a passenger on the bus, who quickly called the authorities. Orange County District Attorny Tony Rackauckas has pressed charges against Alayban, who, if found guilty will face up to 12 years in prison. A judge has set the bail at $5 million for Alanayn, and has banned her from leaving the country without permission, requiring her to submit to constant GPS monitoring should she make bail, which she no doubt will.

Alayban's lawyer, Paul Meyer, has cited the case as a simple contractual dispute, and one that is tailored to his client's wealth. Meyer went as far as to call the bail amount equivalent to a ransom, casually gliding by the irony of using kidnapping language. While the police have said there are no indications of physical abuse, Alayban faces serious charges, especially in light of growing concern over mistreatment of household help. Alayban was curiously absent from the proceedings. 




Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.