Jordan officials held after ‘coup attempt’

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Josie Ensor
·2 min read
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Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the eldest son of the late King Hussein and his US-born fourth wife Queen Noor, claimed in a video recording on Saturday that he had been told to stay at home - REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File image
Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the eldest son of the late King Hussein and his US-born fourth wife Queen Noor, claimed in a video recording on Saturday that he had been told to stay at home - REUTERS/Ali Jarekji/File image

Former advisers to the King of Jordan and more than a dozen other high-profile figures were detained on Saturday night following a reported coup attempt.

A former royal envoy and a former confidant of King Abdullah bin al-Hussein were among those said to have been arrested, amid an ongoing investigation into an alleged attempt to unseat the monarch.

Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the eldest son of the late King Hussein and his US-born fourth wife Queen Noor, claimed in a video recording on Saturday that he had been told to stay at home and not to contact anyone by “the chief of general staff of the Jordanian armed forces”.

He said in the video, passed by his lawyer to the BBC, he was “not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse”.

Army chief Yusef Huneity earlier denied reports that the prince had been arrested, but said he was told to “stop activities that are being exploited to target Jordan’s security and stability”.

Prince Hamzah served as Jordan’s crown prince for four years before the title was transferred to the current monarch’s eldest son, Hussein.

It was not immediately clear how developed the plot was, or how many potential plotters were involved.

An intelligence official told The Washington Post the plan was “far-reaching” and “well organised” and said they appeared to have “foreign ties”.

State media only said the arrests were “security related”.

Israeli media claimed the CIA and Mossad warned King Abdullah of the plan.

Amman has strong ties with the UK and the US, regularly sharing intelligence, and is a key partner in the international campaign against the Islamic State.

King Abdullah, 59, who trained at Sandhurst in the 1980s, has ruled the country since King Hussein’s death in 1999.

Jordan’s powerful intelligence agency, with a pervasive influence in public life, has played a bigger public role since the introduction of emergency laws at the outset of the pandemic last year, which civic groups say violate civil and political rights.

Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said: “We are closely following the reports and are in touch with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”

Saad al-Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister-designate, said: “All the solidarity with the Jordanian leadership and King Abdullah in defending the gains of the Jordanian people, protecting their stability, and refusing interference in their affairs.”