Qatar: US couple absolved in child's death

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Matthew Grace Huang Qatar - updated 12/7
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Qatar: US couple absolved in child's death
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 file photo, American couple Grace and Matthew Huang, who were sentenced to jail on murder charges following the January 2013 death of their adopted daughter Gloria, pose for a photo before they meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar in Doha, Qatar. A Qatari appeals court has overturned a ruling against the American couple over the death of their adopted daughter. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal, File)
American couple Grace, center, and Matthew Huang, left, speak with U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, right, at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. An American couple cleared of charges in their adopted daughter’s death passed through passport control Wednesday and are set to leave Qatar. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, left and second left, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, speak to journalists outside the appeal court following a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
FILE - This undated photo provided by the David House Agency shows Matthew, right, and Grace Huang, left, with two of their adopted children, Gloria, center left, and one of their two sons. The couple charged with starving to death their adopted daughter is asking a Qatar court to release them from prison as they pursue their legal battle, insisting their African-born child died of medical problems complicated by her anorexia-like bouts. (AP Photo/David House Agency)
Matthew, left, and Grace Huang, an American couple charged with starving to death their 8-year-old adopted daughter, speak to the press outside the a courthouse before their trial in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, March 27, 2014. The couple was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison, leaving the family “confused” and “shocked” according to defense lawyers who say the judge did not specify what they were guilty of. Judge Abdullah El-Emedy ordered the Huangs deported from Qatar after serving their three-year sentence. He also imposed a fine of 15,000 Qatari Rials, which is about $4,100. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew (L) and Grace Huang, a US couple who were accused of murdering their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria, stand outside the entrance of the Court of First Instance before their trial in Doha, March 27, 2014. A Qatari court condemned Matthew and Grace to three years in prison for the causing the death of their daughter, who was adopted from Ghana. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith (R) talks with Grace and Matthew (L) Huang, a US couple who were sentenced to three years in jail in Qatar in April 2014 for allegedly causing the death of their adopted daughter Gloria, as they arrive for a meeting in Doha on October 19, 2014. The Huang's were arrested in January 2013 after their 8-year-old daughter, Gloria, died unexpectedly, and an autopsy found she had died of 'cachexia and dehydration'. The Huangs will appeal their conviction on Monday. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matthew (C) and Grace (R) Huang, a US couple who were accused of murdering their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria, stand outside the entrance of the Court of First Instance before their trial in Doha, March 27, 2014. A Qatari court condemned Matthew and Grace to three years in prison for the causing the death of their daughter, who was adopted from Ghana. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matthew (L) and Grace Huang, a US couple who were accused of murdering their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria, speak to the press outside the entrance of the Court of First Instance before their trial in Doha, March 27, 2014. A Qatari court condemned Matthew and Grace to three years in prison for the causing the death of their daughter, who was adopted from Ghana. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
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DOHA, Qatar (AP) - A Qatari appeals court on Sunday overturned a ruling against an American couple over the death of their adopted daughter and said they are free to leave, ending a closely watched legal saga that may have stemmed from cultural misunderstandings in the conservative Gulf nation.

Los Angeles couple Matthew and Grace Huang, who were originally jailed on murder charges following the January 2013 death of their adopted daughter Gloria, headed to the airport soon after the ruling to try to leave Qatar, said Eric Volz, who is coordinating legal and publicity efforts for the family.

The couple was convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to three years in prison in March. They were allowed to remain free pending their appeal but could not leave the wealthy OPEC nation.

The Huangs say 8-year-old Gloria died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits that included periods of binging and self-starvation. Prosecutors alleged she died after being denied food and locked in her room.

The Huangs have two other African-born adopted children and have been pressing Qatari officials unsuccessfully for permission to leave the country to be with them.

"It has been a long and emotional trial for me and my family, and Grace and I want to go home and be reunited with our sons," Matthew Huang said after the ruling. "We have been unable to grieve our daughter."

U.S. officials intervened on the couple's behalf, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki last month urging Qatar to lift their travel ban immediately and bring the case to "an expeditious and just conclusion."

Qatar hosts an important American military air operations center involved in airstrikes against the Islamic State group.

Western-style adoptions and cross-cultural families are relatively rare in 2022 World Cup host Qatar, which has aggressively pursued a higher international profile through sporting events and overseas investments. A report by Qatari police had earlier raised questions about why the Huangs, who are of Asian descent, would adopt children who did not share their "hereditary traits."

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