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SSC levels sedition charges against Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid, Awadallah

By Rana Husseini - Jun 14,2021 - Last updated at Jun 14,2021

A view of the State Security Court building (File photo)

AMMAN — The State Security Court’s (SSC) prosecution office on Sunday levelled sedition charges against former minister Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid, their lawyers said.

SSC military prosecutor Brig. Gen. Hazim Majali upheld the charge sheet that also included plotting incitement acts against the regime.

The SSC prosecution sheet also included a charge against Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid of possessing illegal narcotics (hashish).

The SSC prosecution office referred the case file to the SSC for trial, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, and the lawyers said.

Lawyer Ala Khasawneh, who is representing Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid, told The Jordan Times that the SSC prosecution office summoned the lawyers to hand them the charge sheet.

“We were also informed that a date for the trial is expected to be set sometime next week,” Khasawneh said.

Meanwhile, former SSC president Mohammad Afif, who became a lawyer after retirement, is heading a team of lawyers who will represent Awadallah in the case.

“We visited our clients on Sunday and they are both in good health,” Afif told The Jordan Times.

If convicted of charges of incitement and sedition, the two defendants could get between three and 20 years in prison, according to the lawyers.

Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid and other suspects in the case were arrested in April for “security reasons”.

The charge sheet said the two defendants were friends for a long time because of the nature of their work and connection to HRH Prince Hamzeh.

For a while, the charge sheet added, Prince Hamzeh was aiming to become the ruler of Jordan, which is against the Constitution and “took advantage of certain incidents in Jordan, including the COVID-19 pandemic, to create chaos and frustration in Jordan”.

“The prince started attacking His Majesty the King and criticising him and was encouraged by Sharif Hassan who carried the same convictions and exerted all his efforts to support the idea of Prince Hamzeh becoming the ruler of Jordan,” according to the charge sheet.

Prince Hamzeh and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid met on a regular basis to discuss means of achieving their goals and the latter suggested the name of Awadallah to help them with the needed international support to utilise their plot, the charge sheet said.

“They knew that Awadallah was experienced and had strong influence abroad, which could help in securing Prince Hamzeh becoming the ruler,” the charge sheet added.

The prince and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid also knew that Awadallah was experienced enough in drafting and editing the messages that they planned to use via Prince Hamzeh’s account to send provocative messages to the Jordanian people, the charge sheet said.

When they invited Awadallah to a meeting, the latter agreed to “be part of the plot and also criticised King Abdullah’s approach towards national matters”, the charge sheet continued.

The defendants encouraged Prince Hamzeh to a move to a next level by publicly crticising King Abdullah and the government to establish a popular base, while spreading desperation and sedition among the public, the charge sheet said.

At the same time, the charge sheet maintained, Awadallah pushed Prince Hamzeh “to crticise and weaken the strong position of the King towards the Palestinian cause, the issue of Jerusalem and the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites,” the charge sheet stated.

In March 2021, Prince Hamzeh took advantage of the oxygen outage at the New Salt Public Hospital that claimed the lives of eight patients to send hidden messages against the regime that was aimed to cause unrest, the charge sheet said.

“The prince recorded a five-minute video whereby he held King Abdullah accountable for what happened in the hospital and his ultimate aim was to provoke the public to revolt against the regime and clash with the security forces,” the charge sheet maintained.

On March 13, the SSC prosecution office received a tip-off that the two defendants were conducting suspicious activities that would undermine the safety and security of the country and they were put under surveillance for one month, the charge sheet said.

The SSC prosecution office intercepted several coded messages between the two defendants and Prince Hamzeh that were mainly encouraging him to “go ahead with the plans and used the letter ‘H’ in one of the messages as a sign to start the provocative movements”, the charge sheet added.

In other messages, Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid urged the prince to stay strong by telling him “you should ride the wave of what is going on now in the country, you should become the man of all circumstances and you represent the power and honour. We are behind you man and go for it when the time is right,” the charge sheet said.

On April 3, the charge sheet continued, the defendants were arrested and their plans that would have caused “grave threat to the national security and stability to the country and the system were thwarted”.

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