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Bassem Awadallah in 2006. Photo: Joseph Barrak/AFP via Getty

Amman, Jordan — A verdict will land on Monday for the primary defendant in a sedition case that has shaken Jordan over the last three months.

Driving the news: Bassem Awadallah, a former chief of Jordan's royal court who is also close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, stands accused of conspiring with Jordan's former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein to destabilize the kingdom. He has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer tells Axios he is already preparing for an appeal.

The backstory: Jordanian officials originally described the alleged plot as a coup attempt. Now they say it was a broader plot involving other countries.

  • Jordanian media outlets last month published a purported confession in which Awadallah reportedly wrote that Prince Hamzah had expressed frustration and criticism of the king in private meetings and "was seeking my advice because I was the chief of the royal court in Jordan and I am now close to senior Saudi officials."
  • Prince Hamzah is front and center in both the charge sheet and in Awadallah’s statement, but he is immune from prosecution as a result of an agreement sponsored by Prince Hassan bin Talal, the king's uncle.

Driving the news: A recent Washington Post opinion piece, citing a Jordanian intelligence report, linked the palace intrigue in Jordan to a push by the Trump administration and Israel to win Saudi backing for Donald Trump's Middle East peace proposal.

What they're saying: Awadallah’s lawyer, Mohammad Afifi, questioned the fairness of the trial before the state security court and told Axios that if the decision is not in favor of his client, he will appeal to the regular appeals court.

  • Afifi, himself a former chief judge at the state security court, says that while he continues to believe in the need for a security court, the fact that it was formed by the executive and not the judicial branch makes it unable "to accomplish the international criteria for justice that the court display independence and impartiality."
  • Afifi, who submitted a 34-page closing argument on Tuesday, also said his client was in good spirits.

Worth noting: Afifi's request to call 25 individuals, including three princes, to testify was rejected. The court argued that the witnesses’ testimonies would not be productive, Axios has learned.

What’s next: If found guilty, Awadallah would face a minimum prison term of five years and a maximum of 30.

Go deeper

Texas asks appeals court to swiftly restore restrictive abortion ban

A demonstrator at the Women's March on Oct. 2, 2021, which protested the new abortion law in Texas. Photo: Yana Paskova via Getty Images

Texas asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to swiftly restore the state's controversial abortion ban.

Why it matters: A federal judge granted the Biden administration's request to block the new law this week, calling it "flagrantly unconstitutional." Texas is appealing the ruling and wants the appeals court to allow enforcement of the ban while litigation is ongoing.

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.

Amazon's small business shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon is touting the success of small sellers on its platform through the pandemic — and warning that antitrust legislation could jeopardize that success and blow up its open-marketplace model.

Why it matters: As online shopping became a lifeline for both businesses and consumers during the pandemic, Amazon reaped big benefits, but also saw its regulatory risk grow.

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