Israeli woman jailed in Russia may be sent to Siberia

Issachar may be sent to a prison where family visits would be far more difficult.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Naama Issachar, the young Israeli whose conviction for drug smuggling was upheld last week in a Russian court, will file a second appeal in a higher court and hope that she will not be sent to a far-off jail, her mother Yaffa wrote in a social media post Tuesday.

“Naama is very agitated,” her mother posted on the WeWantNaama Facebook page. “Ten days after sentencing she is supposed to receive the status of a regular prisoner and it can be anywhere in the Russian Federation.”

The concern is that the prison service could send the 26-year-old far away from Moscow, even to Siberia, making it very difficult for her family to visit her. This would be a worrisome development for the young Israeli, who feels isolated even now, as she has only begun to learn Russian in the months since her arrest and conviction on drug possession and smuggling charges.

Russia claims that 9.5 grams of marijuana were found in her checked-in luggage on a layover from India to Israel.

In her unsuccessful appeal, Issachar argued that she hadn’t understood the confession she had signed because it was in Russian and that she didn’t know how the marijuana came to be in her luggage. She argued that a 7.5 year sentence for less than 10 grams was an exaggerated punishment that did not fit the crime.

The judges dismissed her appeal after spending only 20 minutes in chambers after the court adjourned.

Although Issachar feels that “she is being drawn ever deeper into this nightmare scenario,” Yaffa wrote, she is not ready to give up the fight for her freedom. She wants to file an appeal with the next higher court “because she refuses to believe that this is her fate, and rightfully so.”

In an interview with Channel 12 News, Yaffa quoted her daughter as saying, “I won’t give up, even if we don’t believe in the [Russian] legal system. If I don’t appeal it, it’s as if I’m admitting guilt.”

The family may also file a case with the European Court of Human Rights to draw additional international attention to their daughter.