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Jordanian court upholds conspiracy convictions in alleged plot against king

Court dismisses appeal filed by lawyers for Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, saying their 15-year prison sentences were handed down lawfully

Officers stand guard outside Jordan's State Security Court in Amman, where two former officials, accused of helping Jordanian Prince Hamzah try to overthrow his half-brother King Abdullah II, await a verdict in their trial, on July 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh, File)
Officers stand guard outside Jordan's State Security Court in Amman, where two former officials, accused of helping Jordanian Prince Hamzah try to overthrow his half-brother King Abdullah II, await a verdict in their trial, on July 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh, File)

A Jordanian court on Thursday upheld the conviction of two former senior officials on sedition and other charges connected to an alleged plot against the kingdom involving the half-brother of King Abdullah II.

Bassem Awadallah, who has United States citizenship and once served as a top aide to the king, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, were sentenced to 15 years in prison in July by a state security court. They were accused of conspiring with Prince Hamzah Bin Al-Hussein, a former crown prince, and of seeking foreign assistance.

They had been swept up in a wave of arrests in April. Prince Hamzah, who was placed under house arrest that month, denied being part of any conspiracy, and said that he was being targeted for speaking out against corruption. The king later announced that the royal rift had been resolved within the family, and Hamzah was never charged with anything.

Jordan is a close Western ally that hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and has long been seen as an island of stability in a volatile region. But the rare palace feud exposed deep-rooted economic and social challenges in the country, which borders Israel, the West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Awadallah’s US-based lawyer, Michael Sullivan, had slammed the initial verdict, saying that there had been a “complete lack of due process” and that his client had suffered “inhumane treatment, including beatings and psychological torture.” Jordanian prosecutors denied those allegations.

Last month, the US Embassy in Amman expressed concerns about allegations of mistreatment and the denial of family visits.

On Thursday, the Court of Cassation dismissed an appeal field by lawyers for the two men, saying that they were convicted in accordance with the law, according to the state-run Petra news agency.

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