Israeli offered to send jet to evacuate detained Jordan prince’s family: reports

Roy Shaposhnik denies alleged past as Mossad agent, says he’s a personal friend of king’s half-brother, who is under house arrest and accused of destabilizing kingdom

Jordan's Prince Hamzah Bin Al-Hussein, in 2015. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)
Jordan's Prince Hamzah Bin Al-Hussein, in 2015. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

An Israeli man based in Europe contacted Jordan’s Prince Hamzah bin Hussein over the weekend and offered to organize his family’s evacuation from Jordan on a private jet, according to a report on Sunday.

The Jordanian Ammon news agency, which cited an “informed source,” on Sunday claimed Israeli Roy Shaposhnik contacted the wife of former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein, and offered to fly her out of the country with their children.

It claimed Shaposhnik was a former Mossad intelligence agency officer.

The report did not name the State of Israel as tied to the alleged coup attempt in any way.

FILE: Jordan’s King Abdullah II (left) laughs with his brother, then-crown prince Hamzah (right), on April 2, 2001, shortly before the Jordanian monarch embarked on a tour of the United States. (AP Photo/Yousef Allan)

In a statement to the Walla news site, however, Shaposhnik maintained that he was never a Mossad officer. He did confirm that he had proposed assistance to Hamzah for his family as part of their personal friendship.

“I am an Israeli living in Europe. I never served in any role in the Israeli intelligence services. I am a close personal friend of Prince Hamzah,” he told Walla.

“During the weekend, Prince Hamzah told me about what happened in Jordan and I proposed him to send his wife and kids to stay in my house.”

“I don’t have any knowledge of the events that took place in Jordan or of the people involved. The proposal I gave Prince Hamzah was done on the basis of our personal friendship and out of a wish to help the princess and their kids at this difficult moment,” he stressed.

File – Prince Hamza Bin Al-Hussein, right, and Prince Hashem Bin Al-Hussein, left, brothers King Abdullah II of Jordan, attend the opening of the parliament in Amman, Jordan, on November 28, 2006. (AP Photo/Mohammad abu Ghosh, File)

Jordan said Sunday that it had foiled a plot to “destabilize” the kingdom involving Hamzah, the half-brother of King Abdullah II, and arrested at least 16 suspects.

Hamzah — a former crown prince stripped of that title by Abdullah in 2004 — and the others had worked with foreign parties to “undermine the security” of Jordan, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said.

Washington, Gulf allies and the Arab League were quick to stress their support for Abdullah’s pro-Western government in Amman, seen as an anchor of stability in the Middle East.

Hamzah, 41, had Saturday released a video message via the BBC in which he accused Jordan’s rulers of nepotism and corruption and charged that he had been placed under house arrest.

In the message sent via a satellite link from his Amman palace, he lashed out at Jordan’s “ruling system,” saying several of his friends had been arrested, his security detail removed, and his internet and phone lines cut.

He denied being part of “any conspiracy or nefarious organization,” but said that the country of 10 million people had “become stymied in corruption, in nepotism and in misrule” and that nobody was allowed to criticize the authorities.

Jordan’s former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein. (screenshot via BBC)

State-run news agency Petra said among those arrested for “security reasons” were former close aides to the royal family Bassem Awadallah, chief of the royal court in 2007-2008, and Sherif Hassan bin Zaid.

Safadi, who is also foreign minister, said that an additional 14 to 16 suspects had been arrested.

Security service monitored “contacts with foreign parties aiming to destabilize Jordan’s security,” including an alleged offer to spirit Hamzah’s wife out of the country, he said.

Safadi declined to identify the alleged foreign parties or say what the charges were, but said that authorities acted because the alleged conspirators were “talking about timing.”

“This sedition was nipped in the bud,” Safadi said.

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