Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman demanded Palestinians release Issam Akel, who has been imprisoned for two months for allegedly selling lands to Jews in East Jerusalem.
Friedman made the statement about Akel, who has U.S. citizenship, Wednesday on Twitter.
"The Pal Authority has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for 2 months," Friedman wrote, referencing the Palestinian Authority. "His suspected 'crime?' Selling land to a Jew. Akel's incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US and to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release."
Palestinian agents arrested Akel, 53, who holds both U.S. citizenship and Israeli identification cards, in October after he allegedly worked as an intermediary in the sale of property in the Aqaba Darwish section of East Jerusalem, Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva reported.
Selling land to Jews is illegal under Palestinian law and could lead to the death penalty, but Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas has only authorized life sentences for such offenses.
Last week, Israeli authorities took into custody two senior Palestinian Authority officials in connection with Akel's arrest.
Akel's wife told the Israeli news website Ynet that her husband went missing after he was asked to sign a document at the General Intelligence offices. About a week later, authorities confirmed his detention. She said she was able to see him with help from the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.
"His mental state is bad," she said. "He wanted to be examined in the hospital, but they did not let him go."