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Jordan imposes strict censorship on royal rift news

woman wearing a protective face mask walks past shops in amman
File photo: Amman, Jordan March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Alaa Al Sukhni

Jordan banned all news outlets and social media users on Tuesday from publishing any content related to King Abdullah’s half-brother Prince Hamza after the latter was accused of plotting to destabilise the country.

Prince Hamza pledged allegiance to King Abdullah on late on Monday after mediation by the royal family, two days after the military warned him over actions it said were undermining “security and stability” in Jordan and placed him under house arrest.

“To safeguard the secrecy of the investigations being undertaken by the security services in relation to His Highness Prince Hamza bin Hussain and others, Amman’s public prosecutor has decided to ban the publication of everything related to the investigations at this stage,” the state news agency reported.

It said the ban applied to all news outlets as well as social media platforms.

Jordan has long placed media gags on publishing news on cases that are deemed sensitive. Civil activists and rights campaigners say the authorities are curbing free speech.

Prince Hamza said in a voice recording released by Jordan’s opposition on Monday that he would not comply after being barred from any activity and told to keep quiet.

The government accuses Prince Hamza, who was heir to throne until King Abdullah removed him from the position in 2004, of liaising with people linked to foreign parties in a plot to destabilise Jordan and that he had been under investigation for some time.

While not considered a direct threat to the king, Hamza in recent weeks visited tribal gatherings where the king and his government have been criticised more openly, suggesting he may have been trying to shore up his position with the Jordanian public after years of being sidelined following his removal as crown prince.

The state news agency said those arrested included Bassem Awadallah, a U.S.-educated confidant of the king who became minister of finance and adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and royal family member Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan delivered a message reaffirming Saudi support for Jordan, the Jordanian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The Saudi minister arrived on Monday in Amman and met with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi, the ministry said.

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