27 March 2023 :
Fida Kiwan, a Haifa native who was sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates for drug trafficking, was pardoned by the UAE and given leave to return home, according to a March 25, 2023 Walla! report.
Her death sentence had been commuted to life in jail, but following Israeli appeals for clemency she was pardoned by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in honor of the Ramadan holy month, the office of Israel's president Isaac Herzog said in a statement.
Kiwan was en route back to Israel, Herzog's statement added, saying that her family had argued that her conviction was due to her having "fallen victim to a ruse." They did not elaborate, however.
She was arrested in Dubai in March 2022, two weeks after arriving for her work in graphic design, according to Walla! She was sentenced to death in April for possessing half a kilogram of cocaine. She has claimed that the drugs were not hers.
The office of president Herzog said the pardon came following a request by Herzog to UAE President, who agreed “as a gesture of good will,” to release her.
In the last year, Kiwan's Israeli defense attorneys as well as her mother, brother and sister have been in communication with the president's office, doubling down on her claims of innocence, Walla! reported.
Israel and the UAE established relations in 2020 under U.S.-brokered agreements known as the Abraham Accords.
After Kiwan's arrest, Israeli officials said the lack of extradition deals in the fledgling bilateral ties made negotiating her repatriation difficult.