Netanyahu to Moscow as Naama Issachar pardon goes to Putin

The governor of Moscow signed Issachar's pardon request on Tuesday morning and the document was forwarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Naama Issachar (photo credit: MAARIV)
Naama Issachar
(photo credit: MAARIV)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to stop in Moscow on his way back to Israel from Washington, and he may bring Naama Issachar with him on Thursday.
Moscow Governor Andrew Yuryevich signed a pardon request from Issachar, the 26-year-old American-Israeli serving a 7.5-year sentence for possession of 9.5 grams of cannabis found in her luggage in April 2019 during a stopover in Moscow en route from India to Israel. The document Yuryevich signed on Tuesday was forwarded to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Netanyahu and Putin are expected to meet on Thursday.
While in Washington, the prime minister was presented with US President Donald Trump’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. He plans to discuss “diplomatic developments and the Deal of the Century,” meaning Trump’s plan, Netanyahu’s spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
In response to the Deal of the Century released by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday Russia released a statement on Tuesday urging Israelis and Palestinians to “negotiate directly.”
The timing of Issachar’s preliminary pardon and Netanyahu’s announcement has sparked speculation that the young woman may be allowed to return home to Israel after her months-long ordeal. But the Prime Minister’s Office has not confirmed the matter.
Netanyahu formally asked Putin for a pardon for Issachar in recent weeks, and Issachar submitted her plea for a humanitarian pardon on Sunday.
During his visit to Jerusalem last week for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, Putin met with Issachar’s mother and told her “everything will be alright.”
“It’s clear that Naama comes from a very good family,” Putin said. “I know the honorable prime minister’s stance... All that is being taken into consideration at the time of making a decision.”
According to Yaffa Issachar, Putin told her: “I will return your girl home,” but he did not specify when.
While Naama Issachar has been in prison in Moscow since last spring, her case came to light in Israel in the last months of the year. At the time, Israel was holding Russian hacker Alexei Burkov ahead of an extradition trial. The Americans had requested he be extradited to the US to be tried for over $20m. in computer fraud. Russia then submitted a competing extradition request. A court determined that Burkov should be sent to the US.
Burkov, 29, pleaded guilty to fraud in Virginia last week.
Israeli diplomatic sources said Russia never explicitly tied Issachar’s fate to that of Burkov, though it is widely understood that the cases were viewed as related.
After Burkov’s extradition to the US, Israel sought to make other gestures to curry favor with Putin. Last month, Israel ruled in favor of the pro-Putin side in a dispute between branches of the Russian Orthodox Church over which controls the Alexander Courtyard in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Maariv contributed to this report.