MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. The Kremlin expects that the topic of possible pardoning of Israeli national Naama Issachar, who was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in Russia on drugs smuggling charges, will be raised during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contacts with the Israeli leadership later this week, Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.
When asked about possible pardoning of the Israeli woman, Peskov stressed, "We never announce such matters." He noted however he knew that this was a high-profile topic in Israel.
"It is highly likely that this topic will be raised during [Putin’s] upcoming contacts with Mr. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu," he said, adding that it was better to wait and see.
Naama Issachar, 25, was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on April 9, 2019 when she was in the airport’s transit zone before boarding a connecting flight to Tel Aviv after arriving from New Delhi. The airport’s security guards found 9.6 grams of cannabis in her luggage.
On October 11, 2019, the Khimki City Court in the Moscow Region found Issachar guilty of drug possession and smuggling (part 1, Article 228 and part 2, Article 229.1 of the Russian Criminal Code) and sentenced her to 7.5 years in a standard regime penal colony. Issachar admitted her guilt of possessing the drug but denied smuggling charges, saying she had no access to her luggage checked in for the transit flight. She claimed she never took drugs and had no idea of how the cannabis could happen to be in her backpack. Moscow’s region court upheld the verdict on December 19.
In October 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin asked the Russian president to pardon Issachar. In December 2019, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he had also raised this issue at a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Rome to express the hope that the Russian president would look at possible pardoning of the Israeli woman.