WASHINGTON — The two women from the Philippines who allege they were trafficked and held against their will as workers in a Saudi Arabian diplomatic compound in Virginia were interviewed yesterday at a Department Homeland Security office as the department investigates whether there is enough information to press charges, an official said.
“We’ve talked with the two women and continue to talk with them, and I actually belive they were interviewed today at the SAC’s office,” said Brandon Montgomery, a spokesman for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. “They’re working with a non-governmental organization which provides them assistance, as do we.” Montgomery said he didn’t have the name of the NGO but that it was an anti-trafficking organization. “Mostly all the ones we would work with are all focused on trafficking,” he said.
Montgomery said he couldn’t confirm the identity of the diplomat who allegedly trafficked and held the women against their will.
“I can’t confirm that,” he said. “As I’ve said before, our job is just to investigate and see if there’s enough to bring the charging documents.”
The compound in McLean, Virginia from which the women were removed last week belongs to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is inhabited by the Saudi military attaché, the Saudi embassy told BuzzFeed. The women have alleged that their passports were taken away and that they were forced to work long hours for no pay, according to CNN.
“We have nothing on that,” said a spokesperson for the Saudi embassy when asked for updates on the case and if the person involved has diplomatic immunity. “Usually, if it’s a diplomat — there’s always an immunity with diplomats.”
The State Department said last week that it was unsure of the legal status of the person the authorities are investigating.
A spokesperson for the Philippines embassy didn’t return a request for comment about the status of the women.