Saudi sisters found bound in N.Y.C. were seeking asylum

Frederick Owens
November 3, 2018

In their final days, Rotana Farea, 22, and her sister Tala, 16, had told witnesses "that they would rather inflict harm on themselves and commit suicide than return to Saudi Arabia", as their family back home had planned, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told reporters.

Two young Saudi women whose bodies were found a week ago along the rocky Manhattan shore of the Hudson River, bound together with duct tape around their waist and ankles, likely committed suicide, NY police said on Friday.

However, there are no obvious signs of trauma - leading investigators to explore all possible reasons for why they died.

Shea said information showed they stayed at a number of high-end hotels with video showing them in apparent good health as recently as a week before their bodies were discovered.

NY police Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Wednesday that detectives have been in Virginia conducting interviews with members of the immediate family to shed light on "what was going on in the two young ladies' lives".

The sisters' mysterious deaths come after the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul earlier this month.

Those allegations have not been corroborated, but they do make it unclear who would have reported the girls missing on September 12 in Fairfax.

"We've made significant progress in piecing together pieces of this puzzle to find out what happened", Shea said.

No. According to the Fairfax County police, the sisters were reported missing for one day in December 2017.

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Rotana had attended school at George Mason University, before dropping out in the spring, school officials said.

On Nov. 30, 2017, their family saw them for the last time.

"At this point, there's no credible evidence that any crime took place in New York City", he said.

The sisters, originally from Saudi Arabia, were found clothed in fur trim coats and bound together with duct tape.

On Tuesday, the day before the bodies were discovered, the sisters' mother told police she received a call from an official at the Saudi Arabian Embassy, ordering the family to leave the USA because her daughters had applied for political asylum.

The city medical examiner's office will determine the cause and manner of death. Police are investigating the possibilities of a suicide, but they're not ruling out murder.

Instead, police believe that Tala and Rotana Farea may have taken their own lives after their application for political asylum from Saudi Arabia was denied.

At the time, Shea said, 'It was raised that they were the subject of abuse'.

When the bodies of two young women were found in the Hudson River, taped together at the feet and waist, the authorities knew nothing about them except that they had suffered a gruesome death.

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