Former minister Bassem Awadallah and Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid on Monday pleaded not guilty to the charges of sedition and plotting incitement acts against the regime during their opening trial at the State Security Court (SSC).
The SSC prosecution sheet also included a charge against Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid of possessing illegal narcotics (hashish).
Several photos circulated on the media showing the two defendants clad in blue prison uniform being escorted to the SSC building.
A video footage showing two black SUVs entering the court’s gate at around 8:30am was also circualated on media outlets.
SSC start of trial for Bassem Awadallah, Sharif Hassan Bin Zeid.The two are standing trial on charges of sedition and plotting incitement acts against the regime. #Jordan #قضية_الفتنة pic.twitter.com/Pcd28sXen8— Mohammed al Ersan (@JournalistErsan) June 21, 2021
The session was closed to media.
The court heard two prosecution witnesses in the case and adjourned the case until Tuesday.
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 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 of the country and the system were thwarted”.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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