Arrests of top officials and royal family members are rare in Jordan.
Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has been placed under house arrest amid reports that the kingdom’s security forces have foiled a coup against King Abdullah II.
At least 20 Jordanians have been arrested in connection with the alleged coup.
According to The Washington Post, Hamzah was placed under restriction at his Amman palace amid an alleged plot to unseat King Abdullah II.
“The move followed the discovery of what palace officials described as a complex and far-reaching plot that included at least one other Jordanian royal, as well as tribal leaders and members of the country’s security establishment,” the report said.
The official Jordanian media initially reported that Hamzah has been placed under house arrest.
Later, however, a Jordanian official was quoted as saying that “His Royal Highness, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein was not under house arrest or detention, contrary to reports in the media.”
Hamzah is the elder son of the late King Hussein and his American-born wife, Queen Noor. He was named Crown Prince of Jordan in 1999, a position he held until his half-brother, King Abdullah II, rescinded it in 2004.
Hamzah, an outspoken critic of corruption in Jordan, had called for holding those responsible to account.
Sources in Jordan said that a large security force raided Hamzah’s palace in Amman in the afternoon and handed him a house arrest order.
A number of Hamzah’s associates, including the director of his office, Yasser Suleiman al-Majali, were arrested by officers belonging to the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, the sources said. The director of Hamzah’s palace, Adnan Abu Hammad, was also taken into custody, they added.
Other sources said that the Jordanian security forces withdrew the security detail of Hamzah.
Rasheed al-Majali, a relative of the detained director of Hamzah’s office, said that several heavily-armed security officers took part in the arrest.
“They drew their weapons in the face of women and children and took Yasser [al-Majali] to an undisclosed location,” he said. “Yasser has a heart issue and needs various round-the-clock medication.”
Majali is a prominent Jordanian political family based in the town of Al-Karak. Members of the family emigrated to Jordan from the West Bank city of Hebron. Some members of the family previously served in senior positions in Jordan. Two of them, Hazza’ Majali and Abdelsalam al-Majali, are former prime ministers.
A statement published by Jordan’s official news agency Petra said that “Jordanian citizens Hassan bin Zaid, Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah and others were arrested for security reasons.”
The statement did not make any reference to the alleged plot to overthrow the Jordanian monarch or to Hamzah. “The arrest was made after close security follow-up and was executed for security reasons,” the agency said.
Bin Zaid is a member of the royal family in Jordan.
Awadallah, a Jordanian citizen born in Jerusalem, previously served as Director of the Office of King Abdullah II and Chief of the Royal Hashemite Court. Awadallah also served as an unofficial Jordanian envoy to Saudi Arabia and is said to maintain close ties with the royal family in Riyadh.
The US State Department said on Saturday that King Abdullah is a “key partner” of the United States and “has our full support.”
In an email, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s secretary-general said in a statement on Saturday that the GCC stands with Jordan and all its measures to maintain its security and stability.
Separately, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa also voiced his support for Jordan’s King Abdullah and “his measures to maintain security and stability in brotherly Jordan, and defuse every attempt to influence them,” state news agency (BNA) reported.
Egypt also voiced its support on Saturday for Jordan’s King Abdullah and his efforts “to maintain the security and stability of the kingdom against any attempts to undermine it,” Egypt’s presidency spokesman wrote on Facebook.