Jordan appeals court upholds jail term for king's former confidant

Bassem Awadallah was incarcerated over a royal rift in March

Bassem Awadallah during a verdict hearing at a state security court, in Amman, Jordan. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Jordan’s highest court on Thursday rejected appeals to release a former confidant of King Abdullah and a cousin of the monarch jailed for long terms in connection with a royal rift.

The Court of Cassation said it had turned down appeals by Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan to overturn their 15-year jail sentences for sedition, handed down after a secret trial in July.

Its ruling, parts of which were published in official media, cited “solid action” by the two men aimed at “opposing the political system in Jordan”.

The rift within the monarchy came as authorities said there were efforts led by Awadallah to undermine the state, at a time when the Jordanian economy suffered from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Awadallah, a well-connected economist and one of the few Jordanians with a high international profile, held senior government positions in the 2000s and was one of the most powerful men in Jordan.

Among the positions he held were finance minister and chief of the Royal Court. Awadallah also holds US and Saudi passports.

The royal feud pitted Jordan's King Abdullah against one of his younger brothers, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein.

Sharif Hassan, one of two former officials accused of helping Jordanian Prince Hamzah try to overthrow his half-brother, King Abdullah II. AP

State media said the prince was trying to use a severe downturn in the Jordanian economy to replace the king. The prince was not arrested but he has not been seen in public for five months.

King Abdullah said while on a visit to Washington in July that he had treated Awadallah's case “as a domestic problem”.

The authorities said Awadallah and Hassan, as well as another 15 men who were briefly arrested then released, were associates of the prince.

Awadallah and Hassan were the only two of the 17 people arrested in the case to face trial.

Updated: September 09, 2021, 5:30 PM