Qatar Military Official and Wife Indicted by Federal Grand Jury for Allegedly Engaging in Forced Labor
In San Antonio today, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against a military official from Qatar and his wife, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, charging them with two counts of engaging in forced labor by obtaining the labor and services of two persons by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint, and threats of physical restraint, announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Special Agent in Charge James Spero, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Antonio.
According to court records, Hassan Al-Homoud and his wife, Zainab Al-Hosani, along with their children, currently reside in San Antonio while Al-Homoud is attending military training at Camp Bullis. In mid-2014, the defendants allegedly brought with them to the U.S. two females--a housemaid and a servant who have since worked for the family. The housemaid is a citizen of Indonesia; the servant is a citizen of Bangladesh. Both were in the U.S. on visas sponsored by Al-Homoud.
The defendants allegedly housed the workers in primitive conditions, restricted their ability to move or travel, and provided them with limited amounts of food. Al-Homoud and Al-Hosani withheld the payment of wages to both workers and deprived them of possession of cell phones, passports, and visas in order to restrict their liberty to move and travel and to leave their place of employment. Al-Hosani also threatened the workers with arrest and incarceration in Qatar if they failed to perform their work obligations.
The workers’ conditions were discovered by an officer of the San Antonio Police Department in early April, when he encountered one of the workers in apparent distress along Camp Bullis Rd. This led law enforcement officers to a nearby apartment occupied by the workers, furnished with only a pallet on the floor for sleeping.
On Saturday, May 30, 2015, special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), arrested the defendants in San Antonio. Both are on $100,000 bonds pending trial. No trial date has been scheduled. Each charge calls for up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000 upon conviction.
Assistant United States Attorney Bettina Richardson is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.