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The American citizen held by Palestinian Authority security forces since October has been released to the United States, Kan 11 reported Thursday night.

Issam Akel, a 53-year-old Arab-American who also holds an Israeli identification card, was abducted by Palestinian Authority forces in October, after he is said to have facilitated the sale of Arab-owned property in the Old City of Jerusalem to Jewish buyers.

In December, a PA court in Ramallah sentenced Akel to life imprisonment with hard labor for the crime of selling land to a foreign country – Israel.

Despite the sentence, however, Akel was handed over to the United States, after the US and PA signed a secret agreement

In November, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman demanded the Palestinian Authority release Akel.

Under PA law, selling of land to Jews is illegal and punishable by death. However, such sentences must be approved by the PA chairman, and current chairman Mahmoud Abbas has preferred to authorize life sentences for such offenses, possibly due to fear of an international backlash.

In 2014, Abbas toughened the PA law against selling property to Israeli Jews, so that any Palestinian Arabs involved in renting, selling or facilitating real estate transactions with citizens of "hostile countries" in any way would receive life imprisonment and hard-labor.

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