Jordan’s prosecutor has released 16 people detained for “sedition” at the request of King Abdullah II, state media said, nearly three weeks after an alleged plot to “destabilise the country” was foiled.
However, state prosecutor General Hazem al-Majali said on Thursday two other suspects – Bassem Awadallah, a former royal court chief, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, an ex-special envoy to Saudi Arabia – would remain in detention.
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The pair were not released due to their “different roles, the kind of their indictment sheets, and the degree of incitement that differs from the rest of the defendants who were freed”, al-Majali said, according to Petra news agency.
King Abdullah was quoted by the royal court as saying he had called for the release of “brothers” who were “misled, wronged, dragged behind this sedition” so they could be with family as soon as possible during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
State media said the king made the move after lobbying by a number of key figures from across Jordan who asked him to show tolerance.
When the news of the alleged plot first broke earlier this month, Abdullah’s half-brother Prince Hamzah was suspected of involvement. But authorities said later he would not stand trial as his case had been resolved within the royal family.
After claiming he was put under house arrest on April 3, Hamzah had made extensive use of traditional and social media to lash out against his situation.
He accused Jordan’s rulers of corruption and ineptitude in a video message published by the BBC that same day.
But later on, Abdullah said Hamzah had offered his support and loyalty for the monarchy and was now under his “protection”.
Addressing the rare public rift within the royal family for the first time, the king said on April 7 the “sedition” that had caused him “pain and anger” was over. The brothers later appeared together in public.