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Two Jordanians sentenced to 15 years over alleged royal plot

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian state security court on Monday sentenced two former officials to serve 15 years in prison over an alleged plot against the Western-allied monarchy involving the half-brother of King Abdullah II.

Bassem Awadallah, who has U.S. citizenship and once served as a top aide to King Abdullah II, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, were found guilty of sedition and incitement charges.

They are alleged to have conspired with Prince Hamzah, the king’s half-brother, and to have sought foreign assistance. They denied the charges, and Alaa al-Khasawneh, a lawyer for Sharif, said they would appeal the verdict. He declined to comment further.

They two men were swept up in a wave of arrests in April and Hamzah was placed under house arrest. The rare public rift at the highest levels of the monarchy sent jitters across the region, with countries racing to express support for Abdullah.

Hamzah denied the allegations in video statements released in April after he was placed under house arrest, saying he was being silenced for speaking out against corruption and poor governance by the ruling system. The palace drama exposed deep-rooted economic and social challenges in the country, which has long been seen as a bastion of stability in a volatile region.

The royal family says it resolved the dispute with Hamzah, whose exact status is unknown but was never formally charged. Awadallah's U.S. lawyer says his client alleged he was tortured in Jordanian detention and fears for his life.

Abdullah is expected in Washington on July 19, when he will be the first Arab leader to meet with President Joe Biden at the White House. Jordan is a close U.S. ally in the Middle East and is seen as a key partner in eventually reviving the...





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