World Jewish News
Netanyahu 'optimistic' regarding Naama Issachar's release prospects
Israel's caretaker PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday he had increased confidence that the Israeli backpacker jailed in Russia over an alleged attempt to smuggle some 10 grams of pot could be released soon.
The statement comes on the heels of a report in Russian media claiming that Russia's President Vladimir Putin could pardon Naama Issachar, 26, ahead of his visit to Israel in late January.
The report comes from the Russian Kommersant newspaper on Thursday, citing sources in the Russian government. Earlier in the day Netanyahu said that progress has been made on the matter in a phone call with the Russian leader.
The newspaper also said that the Russian authorities were "disappointed and irritated" that Israel went on with extraditing Alexei Burkov, who was arrested in Tel Aviv in 2015, facing cybercrime charges in the US.
Naama Issachar has been handed a 7.5 year sentence by a Moscow court after about 10 grams of cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage as she flew from India to Israel via Moscow.
Appealing the sentence, Issachar claimed that she had been unaware of the drugs, suggesting those may have been planted on her, and said that she was interrogated without a translator and was forced to sign a confession in Russia, a language she did not speak.
While the appeal has been unsuccessful, Naama's team pledged to contest the sentence again, with her family threatening to disrupt President Putin's visit to Israel, slated for January 23.