Jordan confiscates Al-Jazeera video of interview with Prince Hassan
Al-Jazeera says on tape, Jordanian prince claimed top Saudi official was financing Sunni group to fight Hezbollah.
Jordanian authorities on Saturday confiscated the videotape of an interview with the country's former crown prince by Al-Jazeera Television, the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster and a Jordanian official said.
The tape was confiscated as an Al-Jazeera reporter was about to leave the Hashemite kingdom. No further details about the circumstances of the seizure were immediately known.
Nasser Judeh, the chief Jordanian government spokesman, confirmed the videotape's confiscation but said it had nothing to do with the content of the interview with Prince Hassan, the uncle to Jordan's King Abdullah II and one time heir to the Jordanian throne.
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera aired a statement by Ghassan Ben Jeddou, the network's bureau chief in Beirut, Lebanon, who had interviewed Prince Hassan bin Talal in Amman and who said the tape contained remarks by the Jordanian royal claiming that a national security adviser in Saudi Arabia was financing Sunni militants to fight the Iran-backed Hezbollah group.
The network identified the Saudi official as Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington.
In the interview, Prince Hassan also sharply criticized United States policies in the region as destructive, Ben Jeddou said.
Ben Jeddou said that the Jordanian authorities informed the channel's office in Amman that the seizure was an official measure by Jordanian authorities and that they have no problem with al-Jazeera.
Ben Jeddou said the confiscation was a mistake by the Jordanians. The reporter also cited the Jordanians as telling him that there were higher interests for the country than dealing with what you reporters call freedom of journalism.
Hassan was the brother of King Hussein but was dismissed as crown prince in a 1999 royal shake-up by Hussein shortly before his death that year. He is a moderate who does not hold any official role in Jordanian politics but is has considerable influence among decision makers.
A spokesman for Prince Hassan said Sunday that the prince had not been making claims of his own, "but was referring to material published extensively in the U.S." The spokesman cited as examples journalists Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker and the Brookings Institution and Wolf Blitzer of CNN.
The spokesman also said that the prince "was unaware of the confiscation at the time it occurred."
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