Reuven Rivlin appeals to Vladimir Putin for release of Na'ama Issachar

Na'ama Issachar was arrested and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for carrying nine grams of marijuana on her connection flight through Russia.

Naama Issachar, who was arrested by Russia and given seven-and-a-half years in prison for carrying cannabis. (photo credit: COURTESY OF FAMILY)
Naama Issachar, who was arrested by Russia and given seven-and-a-half years in prison for carrying cannabis.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF FAMILY)
President Reuven Rivlin appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding Na'ama Issachar, asking that she be released from prison in Russia.
"Na'ama made a grave mistake and has admitted her crime, but in the case of a young woman with no criminal record, the severe sentence handed down will have a deeply destructive impact on her life," Rivlin said. "The Jewish People and the State of Israel are grateful for your sensitivity to human life  and for your willingness to endanger the lives of your soldiers to locate and return the body of IDF soldier Zachary Baumel. Because of the particular and individual circumstances of Na'ama Issachar’s case, I am appealing to your mercy and compassion with a request for your personal intervention to grant her an extraordinary pardon.”
A senior official involved in the case of Issachar claimed that as long as Russian hacker Alexei Burkov is in prison in Israel, the Russians have not lost hope for a bargain and will therefore use any excuse to arrest Israelis in the country.
Issachar was arrested in April while on a connection flight back to Israel from India through Russia, when she was found with nine grams of cannabis. She was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in Russian prison.
Burkov was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2015 on suspicion of credit card fraud and other cyber crimes in the US after staying in Israel on vacation with his partner. Russia has turned to Israel on several occasions, including a conversation between the justice ministers of the respective countries, asking not to extradite Burkov to the US, but rather to Moscow.
The Israeli court decided to approve his extradition to the US, despite Russian opposition. Word has spread, though no official request has been made, that a "trade deal" is in the works regarding Issachar and Burkov.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana said that the request of the Russian court "is quite meager."
"The American request is much more established and was already approved by the district court and the Supreme Court," Ohana continued. "There are many other diplomatic tools, which should not all be exposed here, and it is being addressed at the highest levels."
Yafa, Issachar's mother, told Kan on Sunday morning, "I am waiting for the judge's permission to meet with Na'ama. I had to beg him to let me since Monday. She has no one to cope with this."
She added that they are trying to appeal the decision. "We did not know it would be so severe," she said. "I told her that no matter how much time they give her, the prime minister and the country will get her out of this. I am sure the prime minister will help me. He wanted us to send her his regards. I hope to see her tomorrow and pass them on."
Ohana told Kan Bet that "we, as the State of Israel, are committed and will do everything to bring Na'ama home. The Israeli court has asked for her extradition."
Maariv contributed to this report.