A Moscow court extended the detention of Naama Issachar, a young Israeli woman charged with smuggling just nine grams of cannabis into Russia, during the first hearing of her trial on Tuesday.
The hearing in the Khimki district court in Moscow lasted 45 minutes during which time the prosecutor made his opening declaration of the charges against Naama Issachar, 25.
The judge decided not to hear statements by Issachar’s defense attorney, and ruled instead that the defense would be heard in two weeks time on September 3.
The judge ordered Issachar’s detention to be extended until that time, during which she will be held in a Moscow police station and will be denied personal visits and phone calls from her family.
During the hearing, Issachar was also prevented from talking with her mother, Yaffa.
Issachar’s family said following the hearing that they were “shocked and disappointed,” with the outcome.
“Unfortunately, we were not allowed to exchange a word with her but to look at her sad face,” the family said, and called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “to help us with his colleagues in the Russian government to remove Naama from the nightmare she has been under arrest for over 4 months.”
The family also called on “all Jews in the Diaspora” to help Naama.
“It's time to help your sister. This is the time to help Naama a combat soldier who served in the IDF for the State of Israel and did what every soldier or IDF soldier does after the military to clear their head after combat military service - traveling.”
Issachar, who was born in the US and has dual American-Israeli citizenship, was returning to Israel in April after a three-month trip to India, via a connecting flight though Moscow.
As she was boarding her flight to Tel Aviv, she was pulled over by Russian police who told her they had found the cannabis in her checked baggage.
Issachar acknowledged that the baggage was hers but said that the cannabis was not, and that she did not know how it got into her luggage.
She was initially charged with possession of cannabis, a relatively minor charge, but a month later it was upgraded to a charge of smuggling narcotics into Russia.
Issachar has said that she did not know the cannabis was in her checked luggage and denies both the possesion and the smuggling charges.
Her family have pointed out the cannabis was never on her person while she was in the Moscow airport but in her checked luggage and that she never left the airport, or even tried to.
Since she was charged with smuggling, Issachar has had her remand extended six times and has been transferred through three Russian detention facilities and prisons, all while not speaking a word of Russian and being allowed just four personal visits and two phone calls.