Mother of Israeli Held in Russia on Drug Charges Visits Her, Says She Hopes Putin Will Pardon Daughter

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have appealed the Russian president to release the 25-year-old Israeli, who was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail

the uncle of Naama Issachar, and his wife look at a newspaper with an article about Naama at their home in Rehovot, Israel October 13, 2019.
AMIR COHEN/Reuters

The mother of Israeli woman Naama Issachar, a 25-year-old jailed by Russia for illegal drug possession, visited her daughter on Monday for the first time since she was convicted of smuggling 9.6 grams of hashish and sentenced to seven and a half years behind bars.

Yaffa Issachar told Haaretz after the visit that she had heard of reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin would consider pardoning her daughter, but that the family was trying not to hang on to hope.

"A hard day, but I saw her and that's most important," said the mother. According to her, she brought Naama Israeli newspapers so she can see the nationwide interest and buzz that her case has stirred. She said that "Naama was unable to see newspapers, and that amazed her."

Yaffa Issachar added that up to now, the family's concerns had only revolved around the investigation and trial, and suddenly they "have to worry about prison. The question now is how long will it [the attempts to have her released] take and if it might be better to proceed with the appeal process."

the uncle of Naama Issachar, and his wife look at a newspaper with an article about Naama at their home in Rehovot, Israel October 13, 2019.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin appealed to Putin to consider the unique circumstances of the case and pardon Issachar.

Earlier today, Russian state media quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, stating that "the Kremlin knows of Mr. Netanyahu's request. After it is transmitted through diplomatic channels, it will be handed over to the Russian President and he will consider it."

Last Friday, a Russian court sentenced Issachar to prison after she was held in detention for six months. The sentence came after she was charged last month with drug smuggling, a crime that in Russia is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. On Monday, Issachar's attorney filed an appeal against her sentence, and a court hearing is expected later this week.

Israel had refused a prisoner swap deal suggested by Russia, according to which Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov, who is under arrest in Israel, would be freed in exchange for the release of Issachar. the Russian hacker said that "myself and Naama are being held in jail as a result of political games."