Jordan’s half-brother Abdullah and former heir to the throne Hamza bin Hussein said he would stop actions used to “secure and stabilize the country”, the military said on Saturday.
A statement issued to the state news agency said this was part of a broader, ongoing security investigation in which a former minister, a member of the royal family and unnamed others were detained.
“What has been reported about allegations of the arrest of His Highness Prince Hamza is not true, but he has been told to stop activities being exploited for the sake of Jordan’s security and stability,” Jordanian Army Chief Yusef Huneity said.
Two people familiar with the situation told Reuters security forces that they had arrived at Prince Hamza’s house and started an investigation.
They said he was not arrested. An official source also told the state news agency that he had not been arrested. Experts in the affair said it could be linked to a conspiracy to destabilize the country, a key ally of the United States.
The Washington Post said Jordanian authorities arrested Hamza and arrested nearly 20 other people after what officials called a “threat to the country’s stability.”
King Abdullah dismissed Hamza as heir to the throne in 2004 in a move that cemented his power.
The state news agency said U.S.-educated Bassem Awadallah, a longtime royal confidant who later became finance minister and adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, and Sharif Hassan Ben Zaid, a member of the royal family, were detained along with other unnamed figures. He did not give details.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Arrests of top officials and members of the royal family in Jordan are rare, which is considered one of the most stable countries in the Arab world.
Prince Hamza, who was nurtured by his mother Queen Noor to succeed his late father King Hussein, has been pushed into the political wilderness since he was ousted as heir to the throne in 2004.
He is trying to gain popularity with prominent tribes in the country, and some opposition figures have gathered around him, which King Abdullah has watched with displeasure, officials familiar with the situation said.
Abdullah succeeded his father, King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for almost five decades.
The tradition of the Jordanian Hashemite dynasty according to the 1952 constitution gives an inheritance to the eldest son, but the monarch retains the possibility of naming a brother.
King Abdullah managed to bring political stability to the country and gain a status as a prominent Arab leader whose message of moderation resonated, especially in Western forums.
Awadallah, who was the driving force of economic reforms before resigning as head of the royal court in 2008, has long faced stiff resistance from the old guard and ingrained bureaucracy that has flourished on government privileges for years.
Jordan’s powerful intelligence agency, with ubiquitous influence in public life, has played a larger public role since the introduction of emergency laws at the start of last year’s coronavirus pandemic, which civic groups say violates civil and political rights.
Jordanian riot police last month suspended protests in Amman and other cities called to mark the 10th anniversary of the pro-democracy demonstrations of the Arab Spring, and authorities detained dozens of activists, witnesses said.