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Jordan arrests: Official and royal arrested for 'security reasons'

 Bassem Awadallah pictured in 2006

A former adviser to Jordan's King Abdullah and a member of the royal family are among a number of people arrested on "security-related" grounds, the country's news agency says.

Bassem Awadallah, a former finance minister, and Sharif Hassan Bin Zaid, a royal, were detained.

However, the official Petra news agency denied reports that the kingdom's former crown prince had been arrested.

Such arrests are rare in Jordan, a key US ally in the Middle East.

Petra said the former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the oldest son of the late King Hussein and Queen Noor, was not subject to any restrictions.

Mr Awadallah, an economist who was educated in the US, has been a confidant of the king and an influential force in Jordan's economic reforms.

He has often found himself pitted against entrenched government bureaucracy resistant to his reforms.

Jordan has a powerful intelligence agency that has been granted new powers since the coronavirus pandemic, which has drawn criticism from rights groups.

The country has few natural resources and its economy has been hit hard by the pandemic. The kingdom has also absorbed waves of refugees from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Jordan is a key US ally and has assisted US forces in security operations. It is also a partner in the US-led campaign against the so-called Islamic State.

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