Jordan’s Prince Hamza has pledged to disobey military orders to not communicate with the outside world after he was put under house arrest, in an audio recording released on Monday.
The statement follows allegations that he was planning to “destabilise” the country in a plot involving “foreign parties”, according to the country’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister Ayman Safadi.
The country’s opposition released the audio featuring Prince Hamza, who is the half-brother of King Abdullah II and was until 2004 the king’s preferred successor to the throne.
“I am going to escalate and won’t obey when they tell you you cannot go out or tweet or reach out to people and are only allowed to see the family,” he said in the recording, initially circulated among friends and contacts.
Mr Safadi said Jordanian intelligence had intercepted communications revealing the plot at what he called the “zero hour”, following a series of arrests.
Some 14 to 16 people were arrested, Mr Safadi said, as well as two other senior officials whose detentions had been previously confirmed.
In a statement posted by Jordan’s state news agency on Saturday, it was said that Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, another member of the royal family, and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, a former confidant of King Abdullah II, had been arrested.
Mr Safadi added that Prince Hamza and those who had been detained will be referred to the state security court, and added that “there is no talk of arresting any members of the armed forces” in connection with the plot.
He said a “foreign intelligence agency” had been in contact with Prince Hamza’s wife to supply them with a plane out of the country.
“The investigations had monitored interferences and communications with foreign parties over the right timing to destabilise Jordan,” the deputy prime minister added.
“Initial investigations showed these activities and movements had reached a stage that directly affected the security and stability of the country, but his majesty decided it was best to talk directly to Prince Hamza, to deal with it within the family to prevent it from being exploited.”
On Saturday, officials announced that Prince Hamza had liaised with people who had contacts with foreign parties in a plot to destabilise the country, and added that he had been under investigation for some time.
Reuters reported that although the cause of the crackdown’s timing was unclear, the prince may have put himself at risk “by making frequent visits to tribal gatherings where some people criticised the king”.
It comes after Prince Hamza spoke in a video leaked to several broadcasters, saying he was visited early on Saturday by the country’s military chief and told “I was not allowed to go out, to communicate with people or to meet with them”.
Prince Hamza’s mother, Queen Noor of Jordan, said in a tweet: “Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander. God bless and keep them safe.”