Jordan's Prince Hamzah says he is under house arrest

Jordan’s Prince Hamzah said that he was told by the head of the armed forces not to leave his house or communicate with people, in videos released to international broadcasters hours after the army denied the prince was under house arrest.

The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Yousef Ahmed al-Hunaiti, denied reports that the former crown prince and King Abdullah’s half-brother was under house arrest or detained.

However, Hamzah released two videos shortly after contradicting the army’s statement.

“I had a visit from the chief of general staff of the Jordanian armed forces this morning, in which he informed me that I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them because in the meetings that I had been present in, or on social media relating to visits that I had made, there has been criticism of the government or the king,” Hamzah said in a video published by the BBC, where he was speaking in English.

Hamzah said he was not accused of making the criticisms himself.

He said his security has been removed and the internet and phone lines have been cut.

“This is my last form of communication, satellite internet,” he said, adding that the company told him it was instructed to cut it as well.

“I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years,” the prince added.

Another video, where he spoke in Arabic, was broadcast by Al Jazeera.

While there has been previous rumours about division within Jordan’s royal family, such a public split is rare.

Hamzah, 41, was Jordan’s crown prince between 1999 and 2004, when Abdullah removed him and appointed his own son. At the time, he said he will remain devout support to Abdullah in official letter published by state media.

A report by Washington Post said Hamzah was placed under house arrest amid an ongoing investigation into an alleged coup plot.

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Al-Hunaiti denied this, but said that Hamzah was asked to refrain from activities that could be damaging to the kingdom’s stability.

Following “comprehensive investigations by security services,” Hamzah was “asked to stop activities and movements that are employed to target the security and stability of Jordan,” al-Hunaiti said in a statement.

“Investigations are ongoing and results will be revealed with full transparency,” al-Hunaiti added.

These investigations have led to the arrest of several high-profile figures, he added.

Unconfirmed reports said the head of Hamzah’s office, Yasser Majali, was also arrested, though he was not identified in official statements.

Majali’s niece, Basma, wrote on Twitter that their family house was raided and Majali was taken to an unknown destination.
Al-Hunaiti’s statement only confirmed the identities of two high-profile figures previously revealed by Petra news agency.

One of them is Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, who was the chief of the Royal Hashemite Court for one year in 2007. He is also a former finance minister.

The other is Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family.

Support from Arab neighbours poured in to King Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia expressed its full support to “any decisions or measures” taken by King Abdullah and Crown Prince al-Hussein to maintain the security and stability of the kingdom.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council have issued similar statements.

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