Former confidant of Jordan’s King Abdullah II charged with sedition

Bassem Awadallah was arrested at the beginning of April.

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A Jordanian security court on Sunday charged a former confidant of King Abdullah II, and a distant cousin of the monarch, with attempted sedition.

The charges against former Royal Court chief Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, who is a junior royal, came more than two months after they were arrested in what the authorities described as an attempt to destabilize the Kingdom.

Jordan’s official news agency said the two men were charged with inciting opposition to the existing political order and “performing actions that expose the safety of society and its security to danger and cause sedition”.

The episode also marked an escalation of a royal rift that was largely kept under wraps since King Hussein, the father of the current King, passed away in 1999 after ruling Jordan for almost five decades.

The authorities said the two men, as well as 16 others who were arrested in April and later released, were linked with Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, a half-brother of King Abdullah II and a former Crown Prince.

Prince Hamzah publicly criticized the running of the country at the beginning of April, when the authorities asked him to curb his movements and contacts in the Kingdom.

The prince has “close links” with Awadallah and Sharif Hasan, the Jordanian newspaper said on Sunday.

It cited documents containing the charges from the Security Court, which is dominated by the military.

According to the documents cited by the paper, Awadallah and Hasan helped the Prince “gain international support to back up Prince Hamzah’s goal to reach power”.

In reference to the Prince’s visits to tribes in outlying areas, the paper said the two men encouraged him to “intensify incitement meetings with some segments of the society”.

The allegations have shaken the political foundations of Jordan, a century-old Hashemite monarchy built on the loyalty of the country’s tribes, who are concentrated in its central and southern regions.

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