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Former Jordanian prince says he is under house arrest

April 3, 2021

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein claims to be under house arrest. Jordanian authorities have arrested several people on "security related" grounds.

File photo from September 2015, showing former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein during press event in Amman, Jordan
Former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein during press event in September 2015Image: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein claimed he is under house arrest on Saturday, according to a video provided by his lawyer to the BBC.

Jordanian authorities deny the accusation. 

In a video statement, Hamzah said he is currently not allowed to leave his home or meet with other people. "I recorded this video to make it clear that what has been said officially is not a reflection of what is actually happening on the ground," he said. 

He criticized the Jordanian government, claiming it is responsible for the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. The former prince also denied all allegations of wrongdoing by the authorities. 

Jordanian security forces had earlier arrested a former adviser to King Abdullah, a member of the royal family and others on "security-related" grounds, the Petra state news agency said.

The Washington Post cited a senior Middle East intelligence official as saying the arrests were made over an alleged plot against King Abdullah II.

The official said the plot was "well organized" but it was not clear how close those allegedly behind the plan were to carrying it out.

Jordan’s vaccination program

What do we know so far?

The Petra news agency cited a security source as saying that the arrests were made after close security surveillance and that a full investigation is underway.

One of those detained is US-educated Bassem Awadallah, a longtime confidant of the king who later became minister of finance.

A proponent of economic reforms, Awadallah resigned as chief of the royal court in 2008 and has long faced stiff resistance from an old guard and an entrenched bureaucracy that flourished for years on government perks.

Another top official named is Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid.

The plot reportedly included several tribal leaders and members of the country’s security establishment.

Nearly 20 people were arrested in all.

Jordanian officials deny Hamzah's house arrest

Jordanian officials had denied reports the former Prince Hamzah was under house arrest, saying the prince had not been held and was not subject to "restrictive measures."

General Yousef Huneiti said an investigation is still ongoing and its results will be made public "in a transparent and clear form."

"No one is above the law and Jordan's security and stability are above all," he told the official Petra news agency.

Jordan's King Abdullah (right) with Crown Prince Hussein
Jordan's King Abdullah (right) with Crown Prince HusseinImage: Jordanian Royal Palace/Reuters

Middle East media reported that Jordanian officials were due to brief the media on the arrests later this weekend.

Saudi royals back Jordan's king

Multiple countries have expressed their support for King Abdullah after the arrests were made. 

The Saudi royal court backed Jordan's King Abdullah on Saturday.

"The kingdom affirms its full support, with all its capabilities, to all decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah and His Highness Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, the Crown Prince, to maintain security and stability," a statement from the Saudi royal court said.

What other countries are expressing solidarity with King Abdullah?

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Lebanon reiterated their support for King Abdullah. The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council also expressed solidarity with Jordan's monarchy. 

Other Arab nations standing behind King Abdullah include the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman.

The United States, Jordan's top western ally, expressed its support for the monarchy. "King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Arrests of top officials and royal family members are rare in Jordan. The country has long been a key Western ally and an island of stability in a turbulent region. It borders Israel, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Iraq.

kmm, mm, wd/aw (AP, Reuters)