Netanyahu: I will do everything to have Na'ama Issachar released

Issachar, a 25-year-old Israeli-American, was arrested in April during a connection flight in Russia with nine grams of marijuana on her person.

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October 13, 2019 10:41
1 minute read.
Netanyahu: I will do everything to have Na'ama Issachar released

Naama Issachar, a young Israeli woman who has been incarcerated in Russia on charges of smuggling drugs.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Naama Issachar's mother on Friday to let her know that he will do anything to have her released from prison in Russia as soon as possible, according to Mako.

He asked the mother to strengthen her daughter and to let her know that he is making an effort to move things along.

Issachar was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in Russia after being caught with nine grams on marijuana which she accidentally left in her bag when travelling from India through Russia back to Israel.

Issachar, a 25-year-old Israeli-American, was arrested in April after spending three months abroad.

Tapes of Issachar's hearings were released on Saturday night on Channel 12, which show the young tourist telling the Russian judge, "I am aware that I acted irresponsibly before my flight, that I should have been aware of all of the items I have on my person. That is the reason that I took full responsibility for Charge 228 (self-use) in my first trial in April."

Israel was offered to swap Issachar for Aleksey Burkov, a Russian hacker arrested in 2015 while he was visiting Israel, but rejected because Israel’s High Court had already agreed that he would be extradited to the United States.

The Prime Minister's Office claimed that Netanyahu "personally intervened on behalf of Naama Issachar in recent weeks."

Netanyahu reportedly "spoke with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin about her case when he visited Sochi a few weeks ago, and raised the issue again during a telephone conversation this week."

"The severe punishment she received for holding a minimal amount of drugs is alarming," Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said in response to the arrest. "The foreign ministry and its partners should be allowed to act to bring her back without bringing the subject into the political playing field."

Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Channel 12, "It is clear to everyone that there are matters at hand that have nothing to do with what she did. The punishment is disproportionate. In Israel, it would not even stand trial."

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.


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