Rivlin Asks Peru to Free Israeli Jailed on Drug Charges

Israeli president asks his Peruvian counterpart to free Hodaya Monsonego, who has physical and mental health issues and has been jailed for six months

Hodaya Monsonego
Courtesy of the family

President Reuven Rivlin has asked his Peruvian counterpart, President Martin Vizcarra, to pardon a young Israeli woman with disabilities who was arrested six months ago and charged with attempting to smuggle drugs out of the country.

Hodaya Monsonego, 24, has been in jail in Peru since her arrest.

In a letter to Vizcarra, Rivlin said Monsonego has physical and mental health issues. He stressed that she does not have a criminal record and that her disabilities may have led to her unwitting participation in crimes.

Rivlin asked the authorities in Peru to take into account Monsonego’s health issues as well as the fact that she speaks only Hebrew, which makes it difficult for her to communicate with her lawyers in Peru.

“In light of these difficult humanitarian circumstances, we are very concerned about the mental and physical welfare of Hodaya, especially in light of her prolonged incarceration and distance from her family,” Rivlin wrote.

“Under these unique circumstances I appeal for your mercy and forgiveness and to intervene personally by granting a pardon to Hodaya Monsonego,” Rivlin added.

Late last month, Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American woman who was jailed in Russia on drug charges, returned to Israel after being pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin. She was arrested in April after Russian authorities found a small amount of hashish in her luggage during a layover in Moscow. She had been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters during the flight to Israel that Israeli officials had taken special interest in Issachar's release, because her incarceration represented a danger to strategic relations with Russia.