Two Ex-officials Sentenced to 15 Years Hard Labor over Jordan’s Sedition Plot
By Staff, Agencies
Two former Jordanian officials received 15 years jail sentences in the kingdom over an alleged sedition plot in April.
Former royal court chief Bassem Awadallah and minor royal Sharif Hassan bin Zaid were sentenced to hard labor over their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to replace King Abdullah II with his half-brother Prince Hamzah.
An AFP reporter said the court convicted the pair of "incitement against the ruling system" and "sedition."
Although the charge sheet acknowledges Prince Hamzah's direct involvement in the plot, he himself is not on trial.
The verdict in the trial, which has been ongoing since 21 June, was announced by the State Security Court, a military tribunal that also includes civilian judges.
Though both men are known to have ties to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh has strongly denied any involvement in the plot.
Jordanian authorities in April announced that they had foiled a plot to destabilize the kingdom in April, a revelation that shocked foreign observers who saw the country as a reliably stable ally.
Eighteen suspects were originally arrested, but 16 were later released.
The trial of the alleged coup plotters was held behind closed doors in the capital Amman.
Middle East Eye first reported on 13 April that Awadallah had been arrested following the revelation that he had been exchanging voice and text messages with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS].
A source close to the investigation told the news oulet that the two had discussed how and when to use mounting popular unrest in Jordan, stoked by the kingdom’s flagging economy and the Covid-19 pandemic, to destabilize Abdullah.
The messages between Awadallah and MBS were regarded as definitive enough proof of a plot hatched by a foreign power for the Jordanians to share it immediately with their US counterparts. They then reported back to US President Joe Biden.
Based on this intelligence, Biden called King Abdullah before issuing a strong statement of support in the hours after the unrest in Jordan was made public.
Biden then supplemented the statement with his own words. Asked if he was worried about the situation in Jordan, Biden told reporters: “No, I’m not. I just called to tell him that he has a friend in America. Stay strong.”