Yafa Issachar, the mother of 25-year-old Na’ama Issachar, was allowed to visit her daughter in Russian prison on Monday for Na’ama’s Hebrew birthday, Ynet reported. An earlier request to visit her daughter for her non-Hebrew birthday was rejected and the cake had to be thrown out, she said.
Locked in Russian prison for allegedly smuggling drugs into Russia, Issachar is being championed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Justice Minister Amir Ohana and Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze'ev Elkin in a case that has captured the sympathy of many Israelis.
Boarding a flight from India to Israel about six months ago, Issachar landed in Russia as part of her planned flight and waited for her plane home.But Russian authorities discovered she had nine grams of marijuana in her luggage – which she had no access to, since it was transferred directly from one plane to the other. Nevertheless, they arrested her for smuggling drugs.
Sentenced to more than seven years in prison by the court, this is the first time Russian law was used against a non-Russian person who entered Russian airspace without even passing customs controls in the country itself.
The amount, which Issachar denies knowing was in her belongings, is a small one. For comparison, Israeli law defines 15 grams of Marijuana as the limit a person may carry claiming self-use, Mako reported.
Her mother told Ynet, “we have an amazing country, and everybody is behind her and offering help and support. It is not taken for granted that Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] called me and Justice Minister Amir Ohana [also did].”She hoped to tell her daughter about the letter she received from Rivlin and to show her reports written about her in the press.
Public opinion in Israel is strongly in favor of the young woman, who is widely viewed as a victim of Russian brutality and injustice.
The Russian lawyer who represents the family told Ynet that his client had no way to reach the nine grams she allegedly carried, only intending to get her possession back in her home country.
“She could not sell, or pass, these drugs in Moscow,” he asked, “so is this smuggling?”