Israeli convicted of drug possession freed from Belarus

Maya Reiten-Stoll, an attorney, traveled to Belarus in late October to meet a client and was arrested at the airport with 2.5 grams of cannabis.

 Belarus-Minsk-Airport Minsk (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Belarus-Minsk-Airport Minsk
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

An Israeli woman held in Belarus for several weeks for possessing a substance that is banned in the country was allowed to return to Israel on Thursday, a court in Minsk ordered her to pay a fine.

Maya Reiten-Stoll, an attorney, traveled to Belarus in late October to meet a client. She was arrested at Minsk airport when 2.5 grams of medicinal marijuana were found in her luggage, even though she presented a valid prescription for it.

Marijuana is illegal in Belarus and being caught with it can incur a prison sentence of up to five years but after the intervention of high-level officials, Reiten-Stoll was fined $2,500 and was permitted to return to Israel.

At the beginning of the month, Reiten-Stoll wrote to her lawyer that she was in constant pain because she was not getting her medication.

“I am suffering here and undergoing anguish and torment, going crazy from worrying about my children, about my beloved parents who are not young,” she wrote in her letter.

“Please put an end to my suffering and that of my family and bring me back home. I cannot be here anymore. I will not be able to stand it for much longer.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Reiten-Stoll’s return, and thanked President Isaac Herzog for his efforts to effect her release.

Herzog spoke with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko earlier this week, who instructed that Reiten-Stoll’s trial take place sooner. Herzog's office denied reports that he promised something in return for Reiten-Stoll's release. 

Lapid also thanked Foreign Ministry staff in Israel and abroad for their work on the matter. He later spoke with Reiten-Stoll and her family after she returned to Israel.