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The Jordanian prince says he is imprisoned, beating the authorities

AMAN, Jordan (AP) –

King Abdullah II’s half-brother said on Saturday that he was under house arrest and accused the country’s “ruling system” of incompetence and corruption, revealing a rare rift in the ruling monarchy of a close Western ally.

The video of Prince Hamza came after the country’s official news agency reported that two former senior officials and other suspects had been arrested for “security reasons”, even when authorities denied that Hamza had been detained or placed under house arrest. arrest.

In a video leaked to British Broadcasting Corp., Hamza, a former heir to the throne deprived of his title in 2004, said he had been visited early Saturday by the country̵

7;s military chief and said he was not allowed to going out, communicating with people or meeting them.

He said his security details had been removed and his phone and internet service had been cut off. He said he spoke via satellite internet and expected to reduce this service as well. The BBC said it had received the statement from Hamza’s lawyer.

Hamza said he had been informed that he had been punished for participating in meetings in which the king was criticized, although he said he was not accused of joining the criticism.

He then attacked the “governing system” without mentioning the king by name, saying he had decided “that his personal interests, financial interests and corruption were more important than the lives and dignity and future of the 10 million people who live here. ”

“I am not part of any conspiratorial or vile organization or foreign-backed group, as is always claimed here for anyone who speaks,” he said. “There are members of this family who still love this country, who care about (its people) and will put them above everything else.”

“Obviously this is a crime worthy of isolation, threats and now suspended,” he added.

It is rare for a senior member of the ruling family to express such sharp criticism of the government, and any sign of instability in Jordan is likely to cause concern among the country’s Western allies.

Hamza is a popular figure in Jordan. He is perceived as religious and humble, in contact with ordinary people and similar to his beloved father, the late King Hussein. He has criticized the government in the past, accusing officials of “failed governance” after they approved the 2018 income tax law.

Earlier, the country’s top general denied that Hamza had been detained or placed under house arrest. Hamza was asked to “stop some movements and activities used to direct Jordan’s security and stability,” General Yousef Hunaiti was quoted as saying by the official Petra agency.

He said the investigation was ongoing and the results would be published “in a transparent and clear form”.

“No one is above the law, and Jordan’s security and stability are paramount,” he added.

Earlier, Petra announced that Sharif Hassan bin Zayed, a member of the royal family, and Basem Ibrahim Awadala, a former head of the royal court, had been detained. Previously, Avadala was Minister of Planning and Finance Minister and has private business interests throughout the Gulf region.

The agency did not provide further details or provide the names of the others who were arrested.

Abdullah has ruled Jordan since the death of his father, King Hussein, in 1999, who ruled the country for nearly half a century. Over the years, Abdullah has maintained close relations with leaders of the United States and other Western nations, and Jordan is a key ally in the war against Islamic State. The country borders Israel, the occupied West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

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

The official news agency of Saudi Arabia said that the kingdom “reaffirms its full support for Jordan and its king and heir to the throne in all decisions and procedures to maintain security and stability and to nullify any attempt to affect them.”

Jordan’s economy has been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic. The country of about 10 million hosts more than 600,000 Syrian refugees.

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994. The countries maintain close security ties, but relations have been strained in recent years, largely due to differences over Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Jordan is home to more than 2 million Palestinian refugees, most of whom have Jordanian citizenship. The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Stability in Jordan and the status of the king have long been a problem, especially during the Trump administration, which has given unprecedented support to Israel and sought to isolate the Palestinians, including by cutting funding for Palestinian refugees.

In early 2018, when then-President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to countries that did not support US policy, the administration increased aid to Jordan by more than $ 1 billion over five years.

Abdullah stripped his half-brother Hamza of his title as heir to the throne in 2004, saying he had decided to “release” him from “position restrictions” to allow him to take on other responsibilities. The move was seen at the time as part of Abdullah’s consolidation of power five years after his succession.

The current heir to the throne is Abdullah’s eldest son, Hussein, who is 26 years old.

Jordan’s ruling family traces its origins to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Abdullah had chosen Hamza as his heir to the throne hours after their father’s death from cancer in February 1999. The appointment was out of respect for King Hussein, who is known to favor Hamza the most among his 11 children from four marriages.

So far, Abdullah and Hamza have not shown open rivalry. A portrait of King Hussein can be seen in a video recording on the wall behind the prince.

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