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January 21, 2019 10:03 am

Palestinians Release Dual US National Convicted Over Land Sales

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses a session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 27, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri.

The Palestinian Authority has handed over to US authorities an American-Palestinian it had sentenced to life imprisonment for violating a ban on selling land to Israelis, two senior Palestinian officials said on Sunday.

“Issam Akel holds an American passport and he was handed over to the US authorities upon their request,” one senior security official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

A second official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed Akel’s release.

Both declined to give any more details. Akel’s family was not available for comment. US officials did not comment when asked about Akel’s release.

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Akel was convicted by a West Bank court in December of attempting to sell a property in East Jerusalem without the permission of his business partners or the Palestinian authorities.

Akel’s family has denied the allegations against him.

The US ambassador to Israel called in November for Akel to be released, after he was first detained.

The Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is a rival to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said releasing Akel was a “grave crime.”

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