Jordanian court upholds convictions in royal plot
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian court on Thursday upheld the conviction of two former senior officials on sedition and other charges connected to an alleged plot against the kingdom involving the half-brother of King Abdullah II.
Bassem Awadallah, who has U.S. citizenship and once served as a top aide to the king, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, were sentenced to 15 years in prison in July by a state security court. They were accused of conspiring with Hamzah, a former crown prince, and of seeking foreign assistance.
They had been swept up in a wave of arrests in April. Prince Hamzah, who was placed under house arrest that month, denied being part of any conspiracy and said he was being targeted for speaking out against corruption. The king later announced that the royal rift had been resolved within the family, and Hamzah was never charged with anything.
Jordan is a close Western ally that hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and has long been seen as an island of stability in a volatile region. But the rare palace feud exposed deep-rooted economic and social challenges in the country, which borders Israel, the occupied West Bank, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Awadallah’s U.S.-based lawyer, Michael Sullivan, had slammed the initial verdict, saying there had been a “complete lack of due process” and that his client had suffered “inhumane treatment, including beatings and psychological torture.” Jordanian prosecutors denied those allegations.
In a statement Thursday, Sullivan called the decision “a dark day for justice.”
“This decision to uphold the original, predetermined verdict and outrageous sentence by a secret court in Jordan violates every international standard for justice and human rights and makes a mockery of the rule of law,” he said.
He said Awadallah continues to be held in solitary confinement and denied contact with his family. Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor, urged the U.S. government to “continue its investigation” into Awadallah’s treatment and to demand the release of the full transcript of the closed trial.
Last month, the U.S. Embassy in Amman expressed concerns about allegations of mistreatment and the denial of family visits.
On Thursday, the Court of Cassation dismissed an appeal field by lawyers for the two men, saying they were convicted in accordance with the law, according to the state-run Petra news agency.