Jordan's government accuses Prince Hamzah of plot to 'destabilise country'

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Deputy PM says authorities intercepted communications between prince and foreign parties
A senior Jordanian official has claimed authorities foiled a "malicious plot" at the "zero hour", as a new round of arrests reached the closest aide to Prince Hamzah, the royal alleged to have unsuccessfully conspired to oust his half-brother, King Abdullah, in a weekend coup.

The foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Ayman Safadi, said on Sunday that the country's intelligence services had intercepted a plot as it was about to be carried out. He offered scant details, but said Hamzah had liaised with a foreign government to destabilise the kingdom.

He also alleged that a foreign spy service had contacted Hamzah's wife about leaving the country by plane, and that all communications had been monitored. Safadi confirmed that about 15 people had been arrested. The latest was Hamzah's office director, Yasser al-Majali. Soldiers took him from his home at gunpoint, relatives said.

"Initial investigations showed these activities and movements had reached a stage that directly affected the security and stability of the country," said Safadi. "But his majesty decided it was best to talk directly to Prince Hamzah, to deal with it within the family to prevent it from being exploited."

Any plan to quietly contain the fallout appears to have been discarded. The allegations caught Jordan's allies and much of the country by surprise, exposing a rare and damaging public rupture among family members and sparking highly unusual dissent from a senior royal towards a monarch, who had presided over relative calm since the death of his father, King Hussein, nearly 22 years ago.

Another central figure in the alleged plot is Hassan Awadallah, a former royal court aide with close ties to King Abdullah. Speculation continues to swirl in Amman about how Hamzah and…
Martin Chulov, Michael Safi
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