On Monday, Jordan’s state court penalized two high-ranking ex-officials for a “discord scheme” that intended to sow agitation against King Abdullah II, though did not address the role of the King’s half-brother, Prince Hamzah, who was initially believed to have been behind the asserted coup.
The court found Bassem Awadallah, a former top aide of the King and a Jordanian citizen who also holds Saudi and US. citizenship, and Sharif Hasan, a little-known Jordanian official and member of the royal family, guilty of sedition and incitement. Both men were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Hasan was also condemned to one year under penal and ordered to pay a fine of $1,410 for drug custody and use. Both men pleaded “not guilty” to the agitation and incitement charges brought against them. “The two accused hold anti-state ideas and together sought to cause chaos and strife within the state and society,” held a proclamation from the court, later shared by Jordan’s state news agency.
A US-based former federal prosecutor, Michael Sullivan, represented Awadallah who has accused the Jordanian state of torturous behavior to his client with the use of electric shocks in order to force a confession. Jordanian officials have refuted the allegations of maltreatment.
Sullivan said the trial before Jordan’s state security court “has been completely unfair,” meeting behind closed doors on just six times.
The high-profile verdict comes just days before King Abdullah II’s July 17 visit to the White House. The King will be the first Middle Eastern leader to be hosted by US President Joe Biden.
The White House said in a statement that the visit would be “an opportunity to discuss the many challenges facing the Middle East and showcase Jordan’s leadership role in promoting peace and stability in the region.”
A critical US ally in counterterrorism operations, Jordan has long been considered a bastion of stability in the region. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened economic woes hindered by the arrival of Syrian refugees, leading to social unrest.