the cause of this output is the following line in /etc/pam.d/sshd:

  # In Debian 4.0 (etch), locale-related environment variables were moved to
  # /etc/default/locale, so read that as well.
  session    required user_readenv=1 envfile=/etc/default/locale

i'm guessing from the comment that user_readenv=1 is in place
primarily to allow overrides of the default locale? etch was
quite some time ago, possibly preceding support for SendEnv?
that seems sufficient workaround if user_readenv is deprecated,
but this is all speculative.

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