AMMAN – The half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah II said Saturday he has been placed under house arrest and accused the country's “ruling system” of incompetence and corruption, exposing a rare rift within the ruling monarchy of a close Western ally.
Prince Hamzah's videotaped statement came after the country's official news agency reported that two former senior officials and other suspects had been arrested for “security reasons," even as authorities denied that Hamzah had been detained or placed under house arrest.
In a video leaked to the British Broadcasting Corp., Hamzah — a former crown prince stripped of his title in 2004 — said he was visited early Saturday by the country's military chief and told he was not allowed to go out, communicate with people or meet with them.
He said his security detail was removed, and his phone and Internet service had been cut. He said he was speaking over satellite Internet and expected that service to be cut as well. The BBC said it received the statement from Hamzah's lawyer.
Hamzah said he had been informed he was being punished for taking in part in meetings in which the king had been criticized, though he said he was not accused of joining in the criticism.
He then lashed out at the "ruling system" without mentioning the king by name, saying it had decided “that its personal interests, that its financial interests, that its corruption is more important than the lives and dignity and futures of the 10 million people that live here.”
“I’m not part of any conspiracy or nefarious organization or foreign-backed group, as is always the claim here for anyone who speaks out," he said. "There are members of this family who still love this country, who care for (its people) and will put them above all else.”
“Apparently, that is a crime worthy of isolation, threats and now being cut off,” he added.