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BREAKING NEWS

Palestinians release dual U.S. national convicted over land sales - officials

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority has handed over to U.S. 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 U.S. 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. U.S. officials did not comment when asked about Akel's release.

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

Akel’s family has denied the allegations against him.

The U.S. 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".

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal Almughrabi; Writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by David Holmes)

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