Princess in human trafficking probe
A Saudi princess charged with human trafficking in the US has been freed after posting five million US dollar (£3.3 million) bail, but authorities imposed strict travel requirements and GPS tracking to keep her in Southern California.
Meshael Alayban, 42, who prosecutors said is one of the six wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud, was released after posting the hefty bail amount a day after her arrest.
Earlier in the day she had appeared in court wearing a dark blue jail jumpsuit to answer to one felony charge of human trafficking. She did not enter a plea. Her arraignment was postponed to July 29.
Alayban was arrested after a Kenyan woman who worked for her as a maid alleged she was held against her will and forced to work. The maid led police to a condominium where Alayban's family was staying, authorities said.
District attorney Tony Rackauckas said after court that the woman was subjected to "forced labour" and likened Alayban to a slave owner.
"It's been 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and slavery has been unlawful in the United States, and certainly in California, all this time, and it's disappointing to see it in use here," he said.
Defence lawyer Paul Meyer declined comment on the case but previously said it was just a dispute over domestic work hours. Alayban is forbidden to have contact with the alleged victim, cannot leave Orange County without permission from the court, and had to turn over her passport.
The Kenyan woman said her passport was taken from her when she left her country to work for Alayban, hoping to make enough money to cover her ailing seven-year-old daughter's medical bills.
The 30-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, alleges she was forced to work long hours and was paid only a fraction of what she was promised. Authorities said it was not until she travelled with the Saudi family on their holiday to the United States that she was able to escape, flag down a bus, and call police.
When police searched the condo, they found four other workers, from the Philippines. The women left voluntarily with officers and told them they were interested in being free, police said. No charges have been filed related to those women and police said there were no signs any of the workers had been physically abused.