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Jordan: Former Crown Prince and Others Accused of Destabilizing State Security to Be Referred to State Security Court

(Apr. 12, 2021) On April 5, 2021, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi announced in a press conference that former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Al Hussein, the king’s half-brother, and more than a dozen other individuals had been arrested on charges of undermining the security of the state. However, Safadi did not mention the specific legal charges against Prince Hamzah and the other individuals. Among the arrested individuals is Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, a former head of the Hashemite Royal Court.

Jordan’s King Abdullah bin Al Hussein entrusted Prince Hassan bin Talal (the late King Hussein’s brother) with contacting Prince Hamzah to resolve the problem within the royal family. According to a Jordanian Royal Court statement, Prince Hamzah agreed to “adhere to the approach of the Hashemite family.” Additionally, Prince Hamzah stated in a signed letter that he is committed to the Constitution of Jordan and supports the king.

In his press conference, Safadi said that an investigation had revealed that Bassem Awadallah had had direct communications with what Safadi described as “external opposition” in order to destabilize state security. Safadi added that those who are accused of committing crimes against state security are to be referred to the State Security Court.

On April 6, 2021, Amman’s attorney general, Hassan Abdallat, issued a national media gag order prohibiting the publication of any information about former Crown Prince Hamzah and the other involved individuals to preserve the confidentiality of the investigations. The gag order will be in effect until further notice, according to Abdallat. The attorney general noted that he based his order on the Press and Publication Law, Law No. 8 of 1998, as amended, which authorizes the Public Prosecution to issue a gag order banning the publication of information related to any stage of the investigation of any issue or crime that occurs in the kingdom. (Law No. 8 of 1998, art. 38.)

On April 7, 2021, the King of Jordan sent a letter to the Jordanian people stating that the former crown prince is “in [the king’s] care.” The king added that other aspects of the case are under investigation in accordance with the law. Law No. 9 of 1961 as amended by Law No. 32 of 2017 is applicable to the investigation of felonies and misdemeanors.

State Security Court

The State Security Court will have jurisdiction over the case, according to Safadi. Law No. 17 of 1959 established the State Security Court, which consists of military and/or civilian judges. (Law No. 17 of 1959, art. 2.)

The court has jurisdiction over the crimes of treason and espionage. (Art. 3.) It may also exercise jurisdiction over anyone who attempts or helps to facilitate the commission of the aforementioned crimes. (Art. 4.)

Law No. 17 of 1959 gives the State Security Court discretion to decide whether to hold a court session in public or in private to protect the public interest. (Art. 8.)

The decisions of the State Security Court in felony cases may be appealed before the Jordanian Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) within 30 days from the issuance date of the State Security Court’s final court verdict. (Art. 9.) The Court of Cassation that adjudicates the petitions of appeal for verdicts issued by the State Security Court must be composed of five judges. (Art. 10.)