After a trial rife with accusations of betrayal within Jordan’s royal family and interference by Saudi Arabia, a Jordanian court sentenced King Abdullah II’s former adviser along with a cousin of the monarch to 15 years in prison on Monday for trying to destabilize the kingdom.
Jordan’s state news agency said Bassem Awadallah, a former royal court chief in Jordan who became an adviser to the Saudi crown prince, and Sharif Hassan bin Zeid were found guilty of sedition.
The two were arrested in April in a case involving King Abdullah’s younger brother Prince Hamzah that sent shock waves through the kingdom and raised alarm in the United States, which considers Jordan one of its closest security and intelligence allies in the Middle East.
The trial began in June in a closed security court on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan’s capital. Prince Hamzah, the son of King Hussein and his fourth and last wife, the American-born Queen Noor, has publicly pledged loyalty to King Abdullah and will not face trial. He was placed under house arrest in April and his movements and communications remain restricted.
Mr. Awadallah and Sharif Hassan were accused of helping to organize an alleged plot by Prince Hamzah to fuel dissent in the kingdom against his brother’s reign.
Lt. Col. Muwafaq al-Masaeed, a military judge, announced the verdict following a closed-door trial. A higher court has 30 days to confirm or overturn the verdict.
Jordanian lawyers for the two men said they would appeal and that they did not consider the verdict a conviction until it had been ratified by the higher court.