Russian Pardon Commission recommends Naama’s release

During his trip to Israel last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally told Issachar’s mother Yaffa that her daughter would be freed.

Yaffa and Naama Issachar (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yaffa and Naama Issachar
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Naama Issachar’s pardon plea was approved by the Moscow Region Pardon Commission on Monday and forwarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the TASS Russian News Agency reported, raising hopes of the return of the 26-year-old yoga teacher to Israel.
The American-Israeli citizen was arrested last April at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport and eventually sentenced in a Russian court to seven and a half years in jail on charges of drug smuggling.
According to TASS, Pardon Commission deputy spokesperson Ekaterina Semyonova spoke with journalists about the case.
“We received Naama’s plea for pardon today,” she said. “She [Naama Issachar] partially admits her guilt. But she pleads not guilty on smuggling charges. She had no such malicious intent. Hence, after considering her character reference from the prison, which is positive, the commission took a decision to satisfy this plea for pardon.”
It is widely believed in Israel that Issachar is a diplomatic hostage, arrested by Russia to pressure Israel to make concessions with regard to contentious issues between the two countries. Arrested during a stopover in Moscow, she was en route from India to Tel Aviv. Russian authorities found 9.5 grams of cannabis in her checked luggage.
Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to secure her release during his visit to Israel last week, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he was optimistic that the outcome would be positive.
Russia has said Putin would consider a request to release her after she had formally submitted a plea to be pardoned. She did so on Sunday, and her case was considered by the pardon board on Monday.