The move exposes a rift at the heart of the country’s royal family, and follows Hamzah’s announcement this weekend that he had been forced into isolation.
The nation’s Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said at a news conference Sunday that security officials had intercepted communications between Hamzah, his circle, and foreign parties about an alleged plan that he claimed would undermine the country’s stability and security.
“The investigations have detected interferences and communications, including some with foreign entities, on the ideal timing for taking steps towards destabilizing Jordan’s security,” Safadi said.
He also accused Hamzah of having tried to “mobilize” Jordanians against the state for “some time.”
But in a video statement obtained by the BBC on Saturday, the prince denied that he was “part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group” and dismissed allegations of anti-government conspiracy as “the claim here for anyone who speaks out.”
“I’m in my home alone with my wife, our young children and I wanted to make this recording, so that it is clear to the world, that what you see and hear in terms of the official line is not a reflection of the realities on the ground,” he said in the video.
Arrests and isolation
Hamzah also said he had been cut off from most forms of communication and put into isolation due to concern over criticism of the government or King Abdullah.
“I had a visit from the Chief of the General staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces this morning, in which he informed me that I was not allowed to go out to communicate with people or to meet with them, because that in the meetings that I had been present in or on social media relating the visits that I’ve made, there’s been criticism of the government or the King,” he said in the video, which the BBC says was sent to it by the prince’s lawyer.
“I asked him if I was the one criticizing, he said no. He said, but this was a warning from him, from the chief of police, and from the chief of the security services, the Mukhabarat (intelligence service) that I should not leave my house.”
Safadi on Sunday confirmed that the top military brass had met with Hamzah the day before and told him to “cease all movements and activities that target Jordan’s security and stability.”
Safadi said the prince had recorded videos in English and Arabic as “an attempt to distort facts and to gain sympathy domestically and internationally.”
Between 16 and 18 people have already been arrested over the alleged plot, according to Safadi, who added that authorities decided to act because those involved had started to discuss the timing to put their alleged plan into action.
The investigation remains active, he also said.
A member of the royal family, Hassan bin Zaid, was arrested on Saturday due to “security reasons,” according to Jordan’s state news agency Petra. The former head of the royal court, Basem Awadallah, has also been arrested.
In Hamzah’s case, Safadi said that King Abdullah preferred to “resolve the issue within the family” in hopes that prince would be persuaded to “reconsider” his alleged activities.
Hamzah was initially considered the favorite to succeed his father. However, before King Hussein died of cancer in 1999 he named Abdullah his successor, as Hamzah was seen as too inexperienced and young to become a monarch.
King Abdullah appointed Hamzah crown prince in 1999 before revoking the title in 2004.
“Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander,” Queen Noor Hussein, Hamzah’s mother, wrote on Twitter Sunday. “God bless and keep them safe.”
The US and a growing list of Arab countries have voiced their backing of King Abdullah.
Saudi Arabia said it offered full support “for all decisions and measures” taken by King Abdullah to maintain security, Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a Royal Court statement.
“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,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in an email to CNN.