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Jordan releases 16 people detained for 'sedition': State prosecutor

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II

Jordan’s state prosecutor says 16 individuals, detained for alleged “sedition”, have been released at the behest of King Abdullah II, several weeks after an alleged coup to destabilize the Arab country was foiled.

In a statement on Thursday, Brigadier General Hazem al-Majali announced the news but added that two key suspects, former royal court chief Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a former special envoy to Saudi Arabia, were still behind bars.

He noted that the decision to free the 16 individuals “at this time in the investigation” was taken at the request of the king. But he did not specify whether this was a final pardon or a temporary release.

The 16 released people, alongside Awadallah and bin Zaid, were being investigated in the case "to destabilize security and stability in Jordan,” al-Majali added.

The state prosecutor stressed that Awadallah and bin Zaid “have not been released because of their role and the level of incitement which is different than those of the other (16) accused who were set free.”

Earlier this month, the military warned Prince Hamzah, the former crown prince, and King Abdullah’s half-brother, over actions it said were undermining “security and stability” in Jordan.

Hamzah later said he was under house arrest, accusing the kingdom's ruling system of corruption, incompetence, and harassment. Several high-profile figures were also detained. 

Prince Hamzah was accused of liaising with people who had contacts with foreign parties in a plot to destabilize Jordan, an important ally of the United States, and that he had been under investigation for some time.

However, days later Hamzah pledged loyalty to King Abdullah II after mediation by the royal family, and the king said the purported sedition had been quashed, adding that Hamzah was “under my care” with his family at his palace.

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