Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi says Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, a former crown prince and the half-brother of King Abdullah II, allegedly liaised with foreign parties over a purported plot to destabilize the country and was under investigation for some time.
Prince Hamzah, 41, on Saturday said he and his family had been under house arrest in his palace outside Amman.
In a short video message provided to the BBC by his lawyer, the prince said all his staff had been arrested.
Accusing Jordan’s rulers of nepotism and corruption, Hamzah claimed that his security detail had been removed and his internet and phone lines cut.
Jordan’s military had already said it had issued a warning to Prince Hamzah over actions purportedly against national “security and stability.”
On Sunday, Safadi claimed that “investigations had monitored interferences and communications with foreign parties over the right timing to destabilize Jordan.”
According to the investigations, the prime minister said, a foreign intelligence agency had been in contact with Prince Hamzah’s wife to arrange for a plane to move the pair out of the country.
“Initial investigations showed these activities and movements had reached a stage that directly affected the security and stability of the country, but his majesty decided it was best to talk directly to Prince Hamzah, to deal with it within the family to prevent it from being exploited,” Safadi stated.
The premier, who is also Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that an additional 14 to 16 suspects had been arrested.
Earlier on Sunday, Hamzah’s mother Queen Noor, the widow of Jordan's late King Hussein, defended her son.
“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander,” she wrote on Twitter. “God bless and keep them safe.”
Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.— Noor Al Hussein (@QueenNoor) April 4, 2021
King Abdullah II had appointed Hamzah, a popular figure close to tribal leaders, crown prince back in 1999 in line with his father King Hussein's dying wishes. However, in 2004, he stripped Hamzah of the title and gave it to his own eldest son Hussein.
Analysts believe that the current political upheaval in Jordan originates from a number of factors including the royal family feud and infighting over power, the economic crisis in the country and a surge in COVID-19 cases that have resulted in public outrage against the government, as well as political rivalries among regional states provoked by the so-called Abraham Accords that saw several Arab states normalize their relations with the Israeli regime.
King Abdullah II has ruled Jordan since the 1999 death of his father, King Hussein, whose reign extended close to half a century.
Jordan’s economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. With a population of about 10 million, the country also hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.