Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi said on Sunday that King Abdullah's half-brother and former crown prince, Prince Hamza, liaised with foreign parties over a plot to destabilize the country and had been under investigation for some time.
On Saturday the military said it had issued a warning to the prince over actions targeting "security and stability" in the key U.S. ally. Prince Hamza later said he was under house arrest. Several high-profile figures were detained.
"The investigations had monitored interferences and communications with foreign parties over the right timing to destabilize Jordan," Safadi said.
These included a foreign intelligence agency contacting Prince Hamza's wife to organize a plane for the couple to leave Jordan, he said.
"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," he said.
Hamzah acknowledges king was criticized
In a videotaped statement leaked to the British Broadcasting Corp., the prince said he was visited early 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."
He said his security detail was removed, and his phone and internet service had been cut. He said he was speaking over satellite internet, but expected that service to be cut as well. The BBC says it received the statement from Hamzah's lawyer.
In the statement, Hamzah said he had been informed he was being punished for taking part in meetings in which the king had been criticized, though he himself was not accused of being a direct critic.
The BBC reported Hamzah visited tribal leaders. The prince has denied any wrongdoing and said that he was not part of any conspiracy, the broadcaster reported.
Queen praying for 'truth and justice' to prevail
Hamza's mother Queen Noor, the widow of Jordan's late king, has defended her son.
"Praying that truth and justice will prevail for all the innocent victims of this wicked slander," she wrote on Twitter. "God bless and keep them safe."
Safadi said the security services have asked for those involved in the alleged plot be referred to the state security court.
Jordan's neighbours and allies expressed solidarity with King Abdullah over the security measures in the kingdom, an important ally of the United States.
Jordan is seen as one of the most stable countries in the Middle East. Echoing statements of support by other allies and neighbours of Jordan, Morocco's King Mohammed VI held a phone call with King Abdullah II in which he expressed solidarity and support for the country's security measures, Morocco's royal palace said on Sunday.
Some opposition figures have rallied around Prince Hamza, in a move that has displeased the king, officials familiar with the situation said.
With files from The Associated Press and CBC News
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