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Two top Jordanian officials handed 15-year jail terms for ‘sedition’ and ‘incitement’

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)
A general view shows the exterior of a security court in Amman, Jordan July 12, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

A security court in Jordan has sentenced two former royal court officials to 15 years in prison on charges of sedition and incitement following a high-profile trial that lasted three weeks.

Bassem Awadallah, the one-time head of Jordan’s royal court, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, the country’s former special envoy to Saudi Arabia, were sentenced to hard labor for fomenting unrest against the country’s monarch King Abdullah II by conspiring with his half-brother Prince Hamzah and seeking foreign help in the plot.

The court convicted the pair of “incitement against the ruling system” and “sedition”.

Although the charge sheet in the case acknowledges Prince Hamzah’s direct involvement in the plot, he himself is not on trial. He has been acquitted on the orders of the king.

Awadallah and Sharif Hassan originally pleaded not guilty to “incitement against the ruling system” and “acts that could threaten society and create sedition”.

The royal drama unfolded in early April, when Prince Hamzah was placed under house arrest after being accused by the country’s military of “undermining security and stability” of Jordan.

The former crown prince, who was sidelined as heir to the throne in 2004, was accused of a plot to destabilize his half-brother’s government in Amman with the help of foreign parties, most notably Riyadh.

The high-profile case, which saw the arrest of at least 18 people, brought to light internal family rifts in the kingdom’s Hashemite dynasty and sparked unprecedented public criticism of the monarch.

The indictment, leaked to state-affiliated media, alleged that Hamzah “was determined to achieve his personal ambition” of becoming the king, while bin Zaid and Awadallah helped him in stirring discontent.

Following the acquittal of Prince Hamzah, 16 other detainees were also released earlier this month, barring Awadallah and bin Zaid.

What made the case intriguing was the alleged foreign help sought by co-conspirators to exploit the king's perceived vulnerability at a time when he was under pressure from Washington and Riyadh to normalize ties with the Israeli regime.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States had apparently joined forces to pressure King Abdullah II to partake in the US-sponsored "normalization deals" with Tel Aviv, according to the Washington Post.

The Jordanian monarch resisted the attempts, leading to a plot to "destabilize" the country.

According to reports, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, former Israeli regime premier Benjamin Netanyahu and former US president Donald Trump were at the center of the intrigue.


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