AMMAN (AFP) – The suspects in an alleged plot to destabilize Jordan will go on trial in the kingdom’s State Security Court, state television reported Wednesday.
"The court’s prosecutor began his investigation Wednesday into individuals implicated in the sedition,” it said.
Since 2013, the jurisdiction of the State Security Court, which has both military and civilian judges, has been limited to five areas -- high treason, espionage, drug trafficking, counterfeiting money and terrorism.
Around 20 suspects have been arrested since April 3 in connection with what Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi earlier this month called a "wicked plan” to destabilize the throne.
Authorities at the time said those were being held as part of "joint comprehensive investigation undertaken by security forces,” according to state-run Petra news agency.
Among them are former royal court chief Bassem Awadallah and a former special envoy to Saudi Arabia, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid.
Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi said previously that investigations found links between Bassem Awadallah and external parties, and the so-called foreign opposition.
King Abdullah II’s half-brother Prince Hamzah, a former crown prince who is suspected of involvement in the plot, will not stand trial.
"Prince Hamzah’s case has been resolved within the royal family,” Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh was quoted as telling a closed session of parliament Monday.
"My Father Is Better Than the King”
In a continuation of turbulent times for Jordan, a one-year prison sentence issued to Athar al-Dabbas for "prolonging the tongue” against King Abdullah II has sparked widespread backlash on social media.
According to the Facebook page Amman City, which publishes updates on the Jordanian capital, the 34-year-old, who works for an electricity company, said "my father is better than the king” during an argument over car parking.
During the dispute, the complainant, Amal Hussein, a peace ambassador and journalist, said "his majesty is above everything and no one is above him. Your father is below him”.
Dabbas, whose father is deceased, was angered by the comment, prompting her reply: "Who spoke about the king? For me, my father is better than the king and the whole world.”
Such comments were considered by the North Amman Magistrates’ Penal Court as "prolonging the tongue” on the country’s king - an Arabic term that means using improper language.
The complainant pressed charges against Dabbas.
The phrase "my father is better than the king” has been turned into an Arabic hashtag, which was the top trending hashtag in Jordan on Tuesday, with scores of social media users angered at the decision by Jordan’s judiciary.
Some social media users focused on the issue of free speech in the country.