At a press conference, Jordanian Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi says former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein was in contact with “foreign elements” and planned to take steps that would destabilize Jordan.
Safadi, speaking a day after the half brother of King Abdullah was placed under house arrest, says that his country has foiled a “malicious plot” to “undermine the security” of Jordan.
Multiple reports have characterized the prince’s actions as a coup attempt.
Safadi says intelligence agents had been observing the plotters for some time and raised their concerns with the king. He says Hamzah, 41, was asked to “stop all these activities and movements that threaten Jordan and its stability,” but he refused.
He says that eventually Jordanian intelligence intercepted certain communications at what he calls the “zero hour.”
“Then it was clear they moved from design and planning into action,” Safadi says. He says some 14-16 people are under arrest.
Safadi says military leaders were not involved, and in fact helped stop the alleged plot.
He adds that efforts are being made to keep the matter contained within the royal family, to the extent that the law allows.
Safadi does not identify the foreign countries allegedly involved in the plot. But he says a longtime senior official who has business ties in several Gulf Arab states, Bassem Awadallah, was involved and had been planning on leaving the country. He also says Awadallah had been trying to secure a place for Hamzah’s wife to flee, with a foreign intelligence service contacting her and planning to smuggle her out of the country.
Hamzah yesterday 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.
Hamzah in his message, which he said he was sending via satellite phone, lashed out at Jordan’s “ruling system” and said 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 the country had “become stymied in corruption, in nepotism and in misrule” and that nobody was allowed to criticize the authorities.