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Former Jordanian Prince Hamzah Bin al-Hussein attends the Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference on May 11, 2010 in Amman, Jordan. Photo: Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein was put under house arrest early Saturday after allegedly plotting a coup against his half brother King Abdullah, sources familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Driving the news: Jordanian security forces arrested more than 20 former Jordanian officials, including former chief of the royal court Bassem Awadallah, Prince Hamza’s chief of staff Yasser Majali and former Jordanian envoy to Saudi Arabia Hassan Bin Zayed.

  • A security official told the official Jordanian news agency Petra that all suspects other than the crown prince had been under surveillance for some time and were arrested on security charges.
    • Petra denied that Hamza was under house arrest or arrested. 
  • The Washington Post first reported about the former crown prince arrest.

The state of play: In a video published by the BBC, Prince Hamza said the chief of the general staff of the Jordanian Army arrived at his house Saturday morning and informed him he was not permitted to leave or communicate with others because in meetings he was present for and social media posts he was mentioned in there was criticism of the king and the government.

  • "I asked him if I was the one criticizing and he said 'no,'" Hamza said. "He said this was a warning from him, from the chief of police and from the head of intelligence that I should not leave my house, that I could not tweet or meet my family."
  • He added that several of his friends had been arrested, his security removed and his phone lines cut. He said his internet connection is going to be disabled and he might not be able to communicate further.
  • "I am not the person in charge of the corruption and incompetence in our government," Hamza said in the video. "I am not responsible for the lack of faith of people in the government."
  • Hamza denied he was behind any conspiracy or that he was backed by any foreign element. He said the government was lying and stressed he was suffering retaliation by the government because of his criticism.

What they're saying: The commander of the Jordanian Army General Yousef al-Huneiti issued a statement stressing Prince Hamza was not arrested but was asked to cease activities and movements that are being exploited to target Jordan's security and stability.

  • Al-Huneiti said the investigation is ongoing and its conclusions will be published with full transparency. He added that all the actions taken were according to the law.
  • “We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials," State Department spokesman Ned Price said. "King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support.”

Flashback: Prince Hamza, King Abdullah's half brother, is highly popular in Jordan for his modest behavior and his resemblance to his father, the late King Hussein.

  • Hamza was the crown prince for the first five years after King Abdullah's rise to the throne. As a result, King Abdullah's son Prince Hussein became the apparent heir. Prince Hussein was officially appointed as the crown prince in 2009.

The big picture: Jordan sent a message to Israel earlier Saturday that “the situation is under control” after the wave of arrests and there is no threat to the stability of the kingdom.

  • Israeli officials told Axios the message was passed by Jordanian military officials to their Israeli counterparts.

Between the lines: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the economic crisis in Jordan. In recent weeks Jordan has seen a new surge in COVID-19 cases which led to harsh criticism against the government and protests in several cities.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has been put under house arrest.

Go deeper

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be traveling on the westbound Empire Builder train from Chicago to Seattle and Portland when eight cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.