Flight assistant held on drugs charges in Saudi Arabia maintains innocence

 JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Ilaria De Rosa, an Italian flight assistant detained in a Jeddah prison in Saudi Arabia, received a visit from the Italian consul general on Monday. Although a specific charge has not yet been formalised, the young woman may be in detention due to alleged drug possession, a circumstance that De Rosa categorically denies, as reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano.

 During the visit, De Rosa immediately declared herself totally innocent and said she did not really understand the reasons for her detention. She recounted - a source reports - that while she was with other people having dinner at a friend's house in the garden of a villa in a compound, they were suddenly surrounded by a dozen or so plainclothed but armed people, who allegedly stopped them and searched them (she claims to have been the only woman to undergo such rather intrusive treatment, probably - she says - because she was not Arab).

 She also claims that the first impression was that of a robbery. She only realised the situation - i.e. that she had been arrested - once she had been taken to a police station but was formally interrogated (in English) only after five days and on that occasion denied any charges of consumption or possession of drugs.

 According to sources, the young woman appeared shaken but in good physical and psychological condition. She had not been notified of the consular visit but was very happy to see the Italian diplomat, the source added.

 The Italian officials first of all tried to calm and reassure her, bringing her all the family's affection and also informing her of what has been done so far for her case and of the attention that her case has attracted in Italy at all levels, starting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is personally following the case with great involvement.