Justice Minister Amir Ohana signed an order authorizing extradition to the United States of a Russian hacker whose fate has been tied to an Israeli imprisoned in Russia for drug possession.
By World Israel News Staff
On Wednesday, Israel’s Justice Minister Amir Ohana signed the extradition order that could send Russian hacker Aleksey Burkov to the United States to be prosecuted for his role in an embezzlement scheme that involved the use of credit card theft to steal millions from American citizens.
Burkov’s extradition has been tied to the imprisonment of Israeli Naama Issachar in Russia, who was arrested in April for possessing 9.5 grams of marijuana when she traveled through Moscow on her way from India to Israel. Issachar was sentenced to over seven years in prison for an offense that rarely receives a punishment that severe.
Issachar’s parents have pleaded with Israeli officials at the highest levels to intervene in the case, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the matter.
A spokesperson for the Issachar family called Ohana’s decision on Wednesday to extradite Burkov “immoral and inhumane,” Times of Israel reported.
“We regret the decision to sign the extradition order, as it could determine Naama’s fate and harm her rights,” said lawyers for Issachar’s family in a statement.
Israeli officials reportedly communicated that Jerusalem rejected a prisoner-swap offer from Moscow proposing to trade Issachar for Burkov. Rumors have swirled around Burkov regarding espionage and allegations this he has provided intelligence to the Russians.
According to Ohana, swapping Issachar for Burkov would “create a very dangerous precedent,” communicating to the world that each time a country that wants to have an imprisoned citizen returned, “it [can] capture an Israeli and make a scapegoat of them,” Ohana told Kan public radio earlier this month, according to the Times.